Deciding where to file your divorce

Where you file for divorce could have long-term effects on your life, especially if you have kids. Find out if you have options and how to decide between them.

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Starting the divorce process can be tough. Even when it's stressful, it's important to think through your choices at the beginning. Which county you file your divorce in could make a long-term difference, especially if you have kids.

If you and your spouse live in the same county, file for divorce in that county. That’s your only option.

If you and your spouse have been living in different counties for at least 90 days, choose between filing in the county where you live and the county where your spouse lives.

Look at your 2 location options for filing with these 3 things in mind:

  • How far you will have to travel. You will probably have to visit the courthouse several times, to file paperwork or appear in court, before your divorce is final.
  • How much you will have to pay in fees. Counties set their own court costs. If you have kids and are arguing about custody, court fees can get expensive. You may have to pay for a guardian ad litem (GAL) — a private attorney hired by the court to say what is best for the children. You may also have to pay for a home investigation, where court staff visits your home and your spouse’s home to decide where your children should live.  
  • "Standard" visitation and custody arrangements, if you have kids. Courts have their own standard schedules for how much time the non-custodial parent has with the kids, and even when that time is. You can ask for a specific visitation schedule, but each court may respond differently to your request. See more about visitation and custody. 

To find out about fees and standard orders of visitation, check the websites of the domestic relations courts in the 2 counties where you could file for divorce. See filing for divorce with children or filing for divorce without children to find information on your local court and clerk. 

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