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What is an Ex-Parte Divorce?


Question: What is an Ex-Parte Divorce?

An ex-parte divorce is one granted in a jurisdiction where only one spouse is living. As long as one spouse has legal residents in the state the divorce was filed in that spouse may be granted a divorce.

Example of an Ex-Parte Divorce:

Tim and Carey met while living in San Francisco. The two dated for two years, married and lived in San Francisco for six years as husband and wife. During the sixth year of marriage Tim was offered a job in Chicago. He accepted the job and relocated, with the understanding that Carey would follow within a few months.

Once settled in Chicago, Tim learned that Carey was having an affair and was now unsure of whether or not she wanted to relocate and remain married to Tim. Carey continued with her affair, putting Tim off when it came to the marriage and whether or not she would be joining him in Chicago.

After a year of hoping and praying that Carey would give up her lover and join him in Chicago, Tim gave up on the marriage. He filed for a divorce in Chicago and was granted an “ex-parte divorce” because Chicago was now his state of residents.

Other Examples of Ex-Parte Divorce:

  1. A couple living in Denver separate. The wife moves to Albany, NY to be near family. After six months the wife has set up residency according to New York State’s residency requirements and she files for a divorce.

  2. James is in the Army, he meets Angie while stationed in Florida and the two marry. Over the next several years James and Angie move to several different locations. James is then deployed to an overseas assignment and Angie stays behind in her parent’s home state of Utah.

    Although James and Angie were married in Florida, since Angie is now living in Utah and has set up residency there she can file for and receive a divorce in that state.

The Trouble with Ex-Parte Divorce:

When a couple separates or finds themselves living in separate states at the time of a divorce, issues such as splitting marital assets and child custody can become very complicated.

For example, if the couple has children, child custody and child support will be determined by the state of residency. If mom lives in Utah with the children and dad lives in Illinois his state of residency will have no jurisdiction over child visitation, child support or any other legal issues regarding the children.

This, in my opinion is the single most important reason to NEVER allow a spouse to move out of state with your children. When you do so you are putting yourself in a legal “one down” position where your relationship with your children is concerned.

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