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Where to File if Parents In Different States?

Having an office on the border of Ohio and Kentucky and practicing family law in both states, I am often asked: Where is proper place to file a divorce or custody action when the parties live in different states? Is it better for a father or mother to file in Ohio or Kentucky? There are some simple guidelines and some not-so-simple answers that are largely fact dependent.  First, the place of the marriage or birth of the child is irrelevant to where a filing should take place.  For a divorce, the place that the parties have resided for the most recent 6 month period should be the jurisdiction of filing.  For a custody action, the place that the child has resided for the most recent 6 months is the correct place of filing. What if the child spends equal time with each parent in different states?  This becomes more complex and is more case specific/fact dependent.  If the child spends more time, then that state is more appropriate.  That said, the first filing may be controlling.  If both parties file in different states, then the courts look at a variety of factors to determine which jurisdiction is more appropriate.  Those factors include the time in each state, reasons for filing in one v. other and most importantly, where the evidence is located. For example, if Father lives in Kentucky, the grandparents live in Kentucky, the child attends daycare in Kentucky, is treated by doctors in Kentucky, and both parties work in Kentucky while Mother lives in Ohio, then the evidence would be primarily Kentucky.  The potential witnesses are located in Kentucky (parent, grandparents, teachers, physicians) and the evidence is located in Kentucky (school/daycare records, medical records).  If the factors weigh about equally, then the first filing may also be a factor.  The judges from each state will discuss and make a mutual determination and the parties may have counsel in each state. The factors are the same regardless of which 2 states are involved.  It is more common when the states abut one another, however the decision making is the same if Kentucky v. California or Kentucky v. Ohio.  When the states are separated, it is very seldom that there is not a primary place of residence, which is controlling. Most attorneys will advise after consultation and help to answer the following questions: Which state is better suited to a particular parent? Which state is more "father friendly" or "pro-mother"? Which state is better for spousal support?  How does fault figure into a divorce in each state? How long will the process take in each state? If you ahve questions or are seeking counsel for custody or divorce in Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati, contact the Bouldin Law Firm and schedule an appointment.  Email Mike at [email protected] or call 581-MIKE.  859-581-6453.

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