Which state's laws apply to your divorce? Sometimes, the answer to this question is not as easy as it may appear. For instance, if each spouse lives in a different state, which state would have jurisdiction to enter a Final Judgement of Divorce if the parties decided to get divorced?
Each state has a specific residency requirement which must be met before a Complaint for Divorce can be filed in that state. Specifically with respect to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, one spouse must have lived in New Jersey for at least one year prior to the filing of the Complaint for Divorce, whereas in Pennsylvania one spouse must have lived in that state for at least six months prior to the filing. Therefore, if the parties have been separated for more than a year with one spouse living in New Jersey and the other living in Pennsylvania, it may very well be that both states have jurisdiction to hear the divorce case and it may come down to which party files first.
New Jersey and Pennsylvania also have vastly different laws regarding some very common issues in divorce cases. For instance, the definition of emancipation (for support purposes) is different in both states. The states also have different laws with respect to alimony and how some assets are distributed between the parties. In addition to differences in state laws and Rules of Court, both states have vastly different procedures on how your issues must be presented to the Court.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding which state's laws apply to your issues and circumstances, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney who is licensed and actively practices in both states. The attorneys at Winegar, Wilhelm, Glynn & Roemersma are all licensed to practice law in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and all attorneys at the firm actively practice in both states. Please feel free to contact us for a consultation.