The Long-Distance Divorce

These days it is increasingly common for couples to decide to live separately without starting the divorce process.  Over time, their circumstances may change, and they may decide it is time to start the divorce.  In some cases, the divorcing couple may have moved to different states during their separation period.  When people who reside in two different states decide to divorce a number of issues can be raised.  Here are some key points to note regarding the long-distance divorce:

Residency and the New York Divorce

People seeking to divorce in a New York court must meet one of several residency requirements. For those with a spouse who lives out of state, if your spouse no longer lives in New York a New York court will still have jurisdiction to hear the divorce case provided you have resided here for two years, or for one year if you and your spouse were married in New York State, lived there as husband and wife, or the grounds for divorce occurred there.

Long-Distance Issues and Children

For those couples who have decided to live in different states, child custody and visitation will be potential issues.  If the couple has been living this way for a while, it may be that they have come to an arrangement regarding custody of and visitation with their minor children.  If such an agreement has not been reached, the parents are going to have to consider how to manage these matters.  If the child has been living in New York for a certain period of time, a New York court will have jurisdiction over the child.  However, if the child has been living out of state for several months, it is possible another state’s court could exert jurisdiction over the child’s case.  Determining which court will have the authority to rule on these matters will be essential.

Once you have determined a New York Court has jurisdiction over the child, it will then be important to consider a parenting plan and visitation schedule which is the child’s best interest and is the least disruptive to the child’s life.  For instance, a young child residing in New York for six months of the year and in another state the remainder of the year may not be an ideal arrangement.  Further, where a child will be with one parent for the school year, it will probably be necessary to factor in ways in which they can maintain contact with the other parent.  For example, a child living in New York for their school year could have scheduled telephone and video calls with the out-of-state parent in addition to specific holiday visits.

A divorce between people in different states can have its challenges.  We have experience and knowledge which can help.  If you have questions on how to handle long-distance divorce, contact us or call 1-914-738-7765

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