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I Spend Time in Florida and Georgia — Where Should I File for Divorce?
If you spend time in multiple states, it can be hard to know where to file for divorce. The answer to this question depends on your particular circumstances. To prevent forum shopping, almost every state has residency requirements for divorce cases. These residency requirements not only tell you where you can file for divorce but also where you cannot file.
Divorce processes vary from state to state. The state in which you file for divorce will also retain jurisdiction over ongoing divorce issues such as disputes over child custody and visitation.
Here is some information about where you can file for divorce if you split your time between Florida and Georgia.
Residency Requirement for a Florida Divorce
To file for divorce in Florida, you or your spouse must reside in Florida for at least six months before filing the petition. This means that even if you have questionable Florida residency, you can still file for divorce in Florida if your spouse has Florida residency.
Florida differs from Georgia in one important respect — Florida requires you to prove your residency in the divorce petition. Florida law gives you two options for proving residency:
You have Florida residency if you lived in the state for at least six months and have a Florida driver’s license, voter registration card, or ID card.
You can also prove Florida residency with sworn testimony from a third party. This means that the testimony cannot come from you or your spouse. Instead, it must come from someone who is not involved in the case.
The statute does not explain what the testimony must include. But residency usually requires for you to have intended to make the state your residence during the time you lived there.
Vacationing in Florida, staying with friends during a separation, or going to Florida merely to file for divorce will not suffice. Instead, you must have intended to live there as a resident during the period in question.
Some activities that show your intent to reside in Florida include:
Working in Florida
Enrolling your children in Florida schools
Filing for homestead tax exemption on Florida property
You can submit a third-party affidavit that attests to any of these activities to support a claim of Florida residency for a divorce.
Residency Requirement for a Georgia Divorce
Georgia law also requires that you or your spouse reside in Georgia for at least six months before filing a Georgia divorce. But Georgia does not require you to submit evidence of your residency with your divorce petition.
Instead, the court in Georgia will accept your signature on the divorce petition as proof that you meet the residency requirement.
Your spouse could challenge your claim of Georgia residency. If this happens, a court in Georgia could dismiss your divorce petition if you fail to provide proof of residency.
As in Florida, you will need to submit evidence of your intent to live in Georgia during the six months preceding the divorce.
Georgia does not have a statute that outlines the proof required to establish residency intent. Presumably, the standard of proof is lower than in Florida, which specifies only two types of evidence.
Evidence that would tend to show your intent include any of the following in Georgia:
School enrollment for you or your children
You could try to claim residency in both Georgia and Florida. However, dual residents must pay income taxes in Georgia. Since Florida has no income tax, you might want to carefully consider whether the benefits of claiming Georgia residency outweigh the costs.
Where to File for Divorce
Where you file for divorce will depend on your specific circumstances. You should probably file in the state that issues your ID, registers your car, and schools your children.
But every case has unique facts and you might have other evidence that proves residency in a different state. Family lawyers in Georgia and Florida can help you to determine where you meet the residency requirements for a divorce.