Moving can affect where, when filing for divorce.

            Posted on Mar 5, 2017 
 

Q

My husband and I grew up in Massachusetts. We married while we were in college. We then spent two years in Wyoming, a year in Ohio, and six years in Portugal. Along the way we had two children, now ages 3 and 5.

We all spent the Christmas holidays with our relatives in Massachusetts. We always had joint bank accounts, a stock broker account and Massachusetts driver’s licenses.

Over the last two years, my husband and I had marital problems, to the point where I didn’t want to live with him anymore. Nor did I want to stay in Portugal. We agreed I’d go live with our children in Massachusetts. After we got settled here, my husband and I would live together and try to keep the marriage going.

I took our children out of their schools, had their school records translated from Portuguese into English, fired the nanny, cook, and driver, packed our stuff and moved to Massachusetts. Here, with my husband’s OK, I used our joint money to buy a three bedroom condo and got our kids into proper schools.

Then I decided - because memories of our bad marital problems kept pouring into my mind – I couldn’t stay married. When I talked with a divorce lawyer, she told me I had to live here for a year before I could file a complaint for divorce. Is that true?

A

That’s false, but only by the skin of your teeth.

Assume a judge ruled you actually decided your marriage was irretrievably broken while you were in Portugal. Then you’d have to be domiciled in – which is often called being a resident of – Massachusetts for a year before filing for divorce here.

But if the judge ruled – as I believe would occur, albeit just barely - you moved here to set up a new home, to then have your husband join you so you two could try to repair the marriage, and you then decided you could not do that - then your marriage was irretrievably broken here, not in Portugal.

The decision is based on the Judge’s discretion. You have the burden of proving your facts. Whatever decision the Judge makes will probably not be overruled by an Appellate Court.

Seemingly you talked yourself into thinking: if you were all back in Massachusetts, you could – for the sake of the children – keep the marriage together. So you traveled, moved into a new home, got the children into schools, etc. Whew!

Then you came up for air. You then realized that, based on other details about your marital problems - which you didn’t include here - you couldn’t stay married to your husband.

I’m sure the Judge will understand that, given your pain, one day feels like a year.