bilateral divorce

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A bilateral divorce is a divorce proceeding where both parties are subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction. A bilateral divorce does not require both parties to be domiciled where the court is exercising jurisdiction, just that both parties be present. 

A bilateral divorce can be contrasted with an ex parte divorce which only requires one of the parties to be subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction. Unlike an ex parte divorce, a party cannot obtain a valid bilateral divorce in a jurisdiction the other party has never set foot in. 

Because having both parties present is less likely to raise due process concerns, a court is more likely to grant a bilateral divorce than an ex parte divorce. 

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]