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Different States, Different Divorce Laws

 Posted on July 05, 2016 in Divorce

Naperville divorce lawyerDid you know that in the United States divorce laws vary state by state? State, rather than federal, laws regulate divorce, meaning that divorce processes and procedures may be different in individual states. Of course, much of the process remains the same no matter where you live, but there are a few components of divorce that change depending on the state in which you file. Here are a few common divorce considerations that can vary from state to state.

Before You Can File

People often believe they are required to get divorced in the state where they were married. While that is not true, many states do have residency requirements in place, meaning that you are required to live in that state for a set time period before you will be eligible for divorce. States such as Alaska and Iowa have no set residency requirement, meaning a couple can divorce there at any time. Other states, like Rhode Island and New Jersey, have wait times of a year or more. Illinois requires a 90-day residency period before allowing divorces. Be sure to review the residency requirement in your state. If you do not meet the residency requirements in the state you are currently in, you can either focus on saving your marriage if possible, plan to proceed with the divorce after the period has ended, have your spouse file if they do meet the requirement, or find another state that requires less time to file.

A number of states also require a waiting period before a divorcing couple can be granted a no-fault divorce, and laws regarding this vary widely from state to state. Maryland, for example, can require up to two years of waiting. Additionally, different states define Dates of Separation differently. In some, your Date of Separation may be the day that one spouse moves out of the family home. In others, it may be the date of your decision to separate.

Separating Property

How property is divided during divorce can also vary greatly from state to state. In most states, property is determined to be either marital or separate property. How each piece of property is labeled determines how it gets divided up during the divorce. Some states, like Michigan and Massachusetts, however, do not distinguish between the two. Other states have only a limited list of property that can be considered separate. In most states, separate property is limited to property owned by either party prior to their marriage or post separation, inheritances, gifts from a third party to either spouse, settlements from personal injury lawsuits, and property that was previously designated as separate through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Property division also varies depending on where you live. Some states such as Idaho and California are community property states, meaning that spouses are considered to equally own all marital property and marital assets are divided 50-50. A majority of states, including Illinois, are equitable distribution states. In these states, property is divided equitably and fairly, but not necessarily 50-50. Many factors are involved in determining how property is equitably divided, and as you probably guessed, these factors also vary from state to state.


Alimony laws also differ from state to state. Some states have banned alimony, while others have restrictions in place that limit the length of time alimony must be paid. These time limits often correlate to how long the marriage lasted. Additionally, some states prohibit alimony if the would-be recipient committed adultery.

Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorneys

Divorce laws can be complicated, especially when laws can vary greatly from state to state. If you are considering a divorce, it is essential that you hire an experienced Naperville divorce attorney with the knowledge necessary to help you smoothly through the process. Call 630-352-2240 today to learn more about how the team at Pesce Law Group, P.C., can help you. Schedule a free consultation with us to learn more about the variety of family law and divorce services we offer.


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