Best state to get a divorce? It's not where you think

Getting unhitched in New Hampshire usually takes less than a day; things very different next store, though

Nov 11, 2011 @ 11:36 am

Divorce is never easy -- but in some states it is easier than others.

If Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries lived in New Hampshire, their lives would be a little easier right now. The two ex-lovebirds were married for only 72 days before announcing they were filing for divorce. In New Hampshire they could have ended their marriage in far less time than that. How much less? Try less than a day. That's because the Granite State is the easiest place to get unhitched in America, according to Bloomberg's ranking of the easiest -- and hardest -- states in which to get divorced.

The weather isn't the only thing unpredictable about New England. New Hampshire's next-door neighbor, Vermont, the liberal home of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, is actually the toughest state in which to divorce. That state has a minimum processing time of more than a year, compared with a zero-day minimum in New Hampshire.

“When people come to me and say, let's get divorced, I say, ‘Let's do it in New Hampshire,' because that's the easier one,” said Cathryn Nunlist, a professor at Vermont Law School. Nunlist practices divorce law and lives near the border of Vermont and New Hampshire.

As with gay marriage laws, every state has different laws concerning divorce. Among the differences are such factors as state-mandated court filing fees, mandated separation periods, residency requirements, waiting periods after filing and minimum time requirements for completing the process.

Proving fault, for such things as infidelity, abandonment or idiocy, is no longer required for divorce in any state. In many states those laws remain on the books, though, making for interesting reading. In Pennsylvania, grounds for a fault divorce include “such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome.”

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“Fault divorce has really fallen into disuse," said Harry Gruener, head of the Family Law Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. "At least in Pennsylvania, you would have to look long and hard to find someone in the last 20 years who has brought a fault divorce.”

Southern states have some of the toughest divorce laws, while Western states tend to be lax. The filing fee for a divorce ranges from $50 in South Dakota to $409 in Florida. Even when both parties agree to the divorce, some states require a year or more of separation before even filing, and other states require six months or more of cooling-off time after filing. Pennsylvania, for example, requires a two-year cooling-off period if one party objects to the divorce.

One thing is clear: It's easier to divorce than it was in the past, though much of the difficulty or ease remains up to the couple.

“People ask me, “How long will this take?'” said Gruener. “I ask them, ‘How stubborn are you?'”

--Bloomberg News--


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