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High-profile Newport couple battle over where to divorce

The state in which a couple's divorce is handled can make a significant difference in their property division, custody agreement and other important issues. For most couples, the state is not in question. However, for couples who own property and spend time residing in two or more states, it is one of the first matters that needs to be resolved.

That seems to be what's happening with Michelle Kwan, the two-time Olympic medalist in figure skating and her husband Clay Pell, who once unsuccessfully ran for governor of Rhode Island.

The two, who married just over four years ago, reportedly started discussing divorce late last year. Kwan says that the two have been separated since November, and that she's been living in a motel while the couple's Newport home is being renovated.

The former Olympic figure skater says that her husband filed for divorce unexpectedly in March in California even though the two of them had been working to "amicably and expeditiously" resolve their differences. She says she found out about his actions via Twitter just shortly before the news became public. She contends that she has since attempted to serve him with papers multiple times, but to no avail.

Pell is seeking to have his wife's divorce filing dismissed so that his filing in California can stand. Just where the couple resides, however, is a matter of dispute.

Kwan says that she had lived in Rhode Island when she filed the divorce papers in Providence County and is a registered voter here. The couple also has a property in California, which is Kwan's home state. However, more than one source in recent years has listed her residence as Washington, D.C. Her husband worked for the Obama administration.

If there's any question about where a divorce filing should be made, it's best if both spouses are on the same page. Regardless, if there's any doubt, it's wise to seek the guidance of a family law attorney who knows the laws of the state in which you are planning to file to make sure that you meet the residency requirements.

Source: Providence Journal, "Olympic skater Michelle Kwan files papers to divorce Clay Pell in R.I.," Katie Mulvaney, May 09, 2017

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