Can my sister file for a divorce in the US even though she was married overseas?

Question Detail

We are married in the Philippines, and my sister lives in the States right now. She wants to file a divorce here against her estranged husband who abandoned them when their kids were small. They don’t have any communications with him, and many years ago she learned he was living with another woman. Is it possible to have an American lawyer process it and how much it cost?

Craig’s Answer:

Yes, even though you were not married in the United States, you can get divorced here. The process to file for divorce requires that you meet the state’s residency requirement which in California is 6 months and 3 months residence in the county you desire to file in. Once you meet the residency requirement you can file for divorce. Every state has different requirements so you will need to check on your state’s requirements. As far as the cost, every lawyer charges different hourly rates. You will need to come up with a retainer to give to your attorney so they can begin working on your case. A retainer is like a deposit on your account because your attorney will begin incurring costs immediately. Retainers and hourly rates will vary depending on the attorney.

In some cases where you are trying to “lock in” jurisdiction to California but do not meet the required residency requirements yet, you might discuss with your attorney filing for a legal separation which does not have the same residency requirements and an be amended to a dissolution / divorce after you have lived in the state  and county for the requisite time.

Category: Divorce, Family Law

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