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I just received a complaint for divorce from my spouse, do I need to hire an attorney to answer the complaint.

Woodbridge, VA |

My husband is stationed in Wyoming and I reside in Virginia, can I hire a lawyer in Virginia to represent me or must I hire someone from Wyoming. We have a child and spousal assets together.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. You need to hire a lawyer in the same state -- ideally the same county -- as the court where the divorce case was filed. That does not mean that the case ultimately belongs there -- depending on the facts (assuming it was filed in Wyoming), after talking to a lawyer who is knowledgeable about inter-state jurisdiction issues in family law, you may decide that you can and should contest whether Wyoming has jurisdiction over property issues, or over child custody. But your first stop needs to be a lawyer in the place where the court case is.

  2. You need to hire a lawyer who is licensed to practice in the state in which the case is pending.

    Legal disclaimer: In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does it form an attorney-client relationship.

  3. In order to protect your legal interests (as to custody, support, and division of mariytal assets and debts), it is advisable to retain your own legal counsel immediately -- particularly since it sounds like your husband may be on active duty with the U.S. armed forces (which means that there are additional military divorce issues/laws which would apply to your case).

    If your husband is in fact on active duty "stationed" in Wyoming, then an initial question in your case will be where is his declared residence (it can be somewhere other than where the member is stationed). Other initial questions are where was the last place of marital residence, where has your child resided for the past 6 months, etc. The answers to these questions will help determine what state (or states) has jurisdiction over the the divorce case, over child custody, over spousal support, and over division of the marital estate.

    Upon reviewing these facts with you, a Virginia attorney should be able to at least assist you in determining which state (or states) has jurisdiction over the matter and which state's law will apply to your case. From there, you can determine whether you need to hire an attorney in Virginia or whether you will need to hire an attorney licensed in Wyoming.

    This response does not create an attorney-client relationship and is intended for general information purposes only.

  4. You may also want to consult an attorney where you reside to discuss jurisdictional issues.

    If your child lives with you, VA may be the proper venue to file, especially if the child has never resided in WY.

    Most family law consultations are free. You may need 2.

    Ultimately, you will need a lawyer in the state that hears the case, but you should address jurisdiction first.

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