Someone recently asked me, “If we got married in California, but move to Colorado and want to get divorced, which law will have jurisdiction, Colorado law or California law?”
In 90% of divorce cases I see, the issue of where to get divorced does not come up. However, on occasion, the question does arise, and it’s usually a matter of one person thinking they can get a better divorce outcome in one state over another.
In Which State Should We Get Divorced?
I once worked with a client who had questions about whether she should get divorced in Arkansas (where her husband had filed) or in Colorado (where they had moved).
She was sued for divorce in Arkansas, but she preferred to get divorced in Colorado UNLESS she would be treated more favorably in Arkansas. I told her that, because I don’t know the nuances of Arkansas divorce law, and since there was a reasonable question as to where the couple should get divorced, she should hire an Arkansas attorney so we could figure out which state’s divorce laws would be more favorable to her.
She went ahead and did just that. We discovered that Colorado law was more favorable, so she fought the case in Arkansas to try and file in Colorado. In this case, she succeeded.
Determining Factors in Deciding Where to Get Divorced
As a general rule, the determining factors that decide where you should get divorced are threefold:
- Where you live,
- Where the property is, and
- Where the kids are.
There is a specific statutory provision especially as it relates to kids: if two states have jurisdiction over the kids, then the two judges (one from each state) are supposed to get on the phone and discuss the case. Together, they will consider which jurisdiction has the most relevant information about the kids.
In Colorado (and in all states that have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA), in order for a state to be considered a “home state,” the kids have to have lived there for at least six months. On occasion, you have kids who have lived six months in Colorado, and their lives have been firmly established here: they go to school here, all their dentists/doctors/tutors are here, etc.
In that situation, if the parties cannot decide which jurisdiction has the most relevant information, the Judges in the two jurisdictions will speak on the phone and decide which jurisdiction should hear the case.
Most likely, the Colorado judge will say something like, “Gee, everything that’s happened in the kids’ lives for the last six months is in Colorado. Doesn’t it make more sense to keep the case here?” Theoretically the other judge would agree, and they will decide that Colorado has jurisdiction over the divorce case.
The judges will decide the forum that is most convenient for the family, and makes the most sense.
If you are trying to decide where to file for divorce, or whether to fight a divorce suit that has been filed in another state, these are all things to take into consideration. Call our office at 303-449-1873 to set up a complimentary consultation.