Multi-State Divorce Confusion


I have a complex situation and am not sure about jurisdiction. I have lived in NC since July when I returned from a 1 year study out of state. I previously lived in NC for 1 year immediately prior to going out of state for educational purposes. I had a daughter in NC 21 months ago. She stayed in NC with her grandparents who live in NC. My spouse has lived in Georgia the entire time and has visited our daughter only occasionally since she was born. I concluded that divorce was necessary for a number of reasons about a year ago but have been unable to file due to residency requirements. I received a temporary custody order over the summer in NC giving me sole physical custody of my daughter.

My question is where should I file for divorce and equitable distribution since I am a permanent residence of NC. My spouse stated an intent to move to NC prior to this year but never followed through. I want to do everything in NC but not sure if NC has jurisdiction in financial matters.


You are a resident of NC based on the facts you list, and your year’s absence for study did not change your domicile since you intended to return to this State.


However, the NC courts may have limited jurisdiction over your STBX. The NC courts can divorce you, divide property in NC, but unless your spouse has contacts with NC (sufficient to grant the court personal jurisdiction over him), he cannot be compelled to pay spousal support by an NC court, nor can property outside the state be divided by an NC court. (This is assuming your STBX doesn’t make any mistakes. If he does, he could inadvertantly grant jurisdiction to the court. I don’t think it is a good idea to count on the other side making mistakes in adversarial matters.)

Depending on the circumstances, the NC courts may be able to compel child support.

During my divorce, my X sued me for divorce in the state we were married in, and she was resident in. She was able to get an ex parte support order against me (my opinions of ex parte orders in non-emergency situations is irrelevant to the discussion), but I was able to get it thrown out (in the issuing state) due to lack of personal jurisdiction over me by the issuing state. I owned no property within that state, had never resided there, had never worked there, and wasn’t physically there.