It isn’t unusual for couples considering divorce to physically separate while they sort out their feelings.
It is a little unusual, however, to talk about your impending divorce on Twitter before you’ve bothered to tell your spouse that you’ve decide to proceed.
That’s the unpleasant way that Olympian figure skater Michelle Kwan found out that her husband of four years had decided to go ahead with a divorce. After reading the tweet, she found an article online where her spouse announced that he’d filed for divorce in California, the state where he’s currently living.
Kwan is currently living in their home in Rhode Island and would prefer that the divorce case be handled by that state’s court. She’s attempted to serve her spouse with the Rhode Island divorce complaint 10 times — indicating that he must be going to great lengths to avoid being served.
Likely, his reluctance to be located has to do with his preference for California’s court system. When couples separate prior to divorcing and move into different states, jurisdictional disputes can be a problem. Not every state follows the same rules in a divorce, and it’s likely that Kwan’s husband prefers California’s marital property laws over those in Rhode Island.
California considers everything acquired after a marriage to be community property — and the general rule for dividing it up is “share and share alike.” In the majority of cases, community property is divided equally between the divorcing spouses regardless of factors like who contributed most to the marital assets.
Rhode Island, by comparison, has a much more complicated process for the division of marital property known as equitable distribution. Equitable distribution takes an approach that is best described as “fair but not necessarily equal.” When dividing up the marital assets, the judge is free to consider not only the contributions of each spouse toward the marital assets but a host of other factors. Some of the things considered are the length of the marriage, each spouse’s conduct within the marriage, the occupation of each spouse and his or her relative earning capacity.
Jurisdictional disputes in a divorce can quickly become complicated issues. If you suspect that you may have a jurisdictional issue with your spouse sometime soon, talk to an attorney today.
Source: Vanity Fair, “Michelle Kwan's Divorce Kicked Off with an Unpleasant Surprise,” Hilary Weaver, May 11, 2017