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Across State Lines: Divorce in Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana

On Behalf of | May 3, 2018 | Family Law, Rapier & Bowling

The divorce process can give rise to all sorts of complications. For example, what if you and your soon-to-be-ex live in different states? What happens if one of you lives in Ohio and the other lives in Kentucky or Indiana? In our tristate area, you may live just 10 minutes from someone yet across state lines. When filing for divorce in Ohio, you will want to know what your residency means for the proceedings.

Residency Requirements and Court Jurisdiction

The first step when filing for divorce is determining which court has jurisdiction. Jurisdiction depends on your state of residency. If you just moved to Hamilton County, Ohio, and the other spouse is still residing in, say, Franklin County, Indiana, you probably need to file in Indiana.Residency requirements for Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana are:

  • Ohio: Must have lived in the state for 6 months and the county of filing for 90 days.
  • Kentucky: Must file within the county of residence, and have lived in the state for at least 180 days. You and your spouse must also have lived separately and not acted as a couple for at least 60 days before the date of filing. Additionally, neither party can file for divorce while a wife is pregnant.
  • Indiana: As with Ohio, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for six months, and in the county for three months. The same applies if one of you is stationed there for military duties.

Divorcing parents who still live in the marital home should file for relocation before moving out of state. Generally, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) determines residency as where the children have lived for the last six months, and in which state they have significant ties. Personal jurisdiction may also be considered for whether to file in Indiana, Ohio, or Kentucky. This applies if one of you has business, owns property, or (for a considerable time during your relationship), lived in another state. So what if you both meet residency criteria for different states? If you both file, proceedings will typically be held where the paperwork was processed first.

Serving Divorce Papers in Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana

Once you file through the appropriate state’s district court, you must then serve the other party. You can directly hand them the papers, send them via certified mail, or have a sheriff or a third-party processor deliver them. Sometimes the filing party cannot locate the other. The following is required if one spouse cannot be served:

  • Ohio: All possibilities to find someone must be investigated. These include residency, employment, hospitalization, imprisonment, information provided by taxes, family, close friends, and the DMV. If he or she still cannot be found, then there will be “divorce by publication.” Should the party not respond to the public notices, the divorce will ultimately be granted.
  • Indiana: Same as for Ohio
  • Kentucky: A warning order through an attorney will apply for a missing spouse. Similar to the divorce by publication, proper notice will be given. If the party does not reply within a given time, the divorce will be granted without their participation.

Any parenting agreement you create as a result of the divorce will include information about the children’s state of residence. Later, if one parent moves, you can update the parenting agreement.

Responding to Divorce Papers

If you object to the jurisdiction location, you must make that motion before responding to anything within the papers. Thus, it is best not to counter-file anything pertaining to the divorce, until you file to relocate proceedings. Of course, if the divorce is going to be amicable, then it shouldn’t matter if held in Ohio courts or if only one party is residing in a different state. A divorce settlement agreement is preferable since attorneys can present the signed paperwork and offset your travel challenges. Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana are “no-fault” states. That means you do not have to prove a grievance against one another to get a divorce. These states also declare “equitable distribution,” only dividing property acquired during the marriage. This excludes anything brought into the relationship or proven to be exclusively individual gifts. If, for example, the house is in Warren County, Ohio, and you now live in Campbell County, Kentucky, a judge might order a sale, so that monies can be divided. Additional concerns regarding custody, name changes, protection orders, and if one spouse is deployed will be handled accordingly during divorce hearings. Unless the divorce is merely dissolving the marriage without any opposition, it’s better to have an attorney lead the proceedings.   Getting a divorce is still possible, whether you live in Middletown, Fairfield, or the surrounding counties in Ohio, and the other party lives in Grant County, Kentucky, or Greene County, Indiana. Consult an attorney experienced in family law, and take the necessary steps. Regardless of where you live you will start moving toward your new life and a fresh start.   PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons /  CC-SA 4.0 International