Divorce is a complex process, and it becomes even more complicated when spouses live in different states. If you’re living in Texas and your spouse resides in another state, you might be wondering if you can still file for divorce in Texas. The answer is yes, but there are certain conditions and requirements that need to be met.
Our divorce lawyers in the Woodlands explain what you need to know.
In Texas, as is the case in most states, there is a “residency requirement” for divorce proceedings. According to the Texas Family Code § 6.301, a divorce case can be legally initiated, processed, and concluded by a Texas court if either party is a resident of Texas.
The residency rule stipulates that either the petitioner or the respondent must have been a resident of Texas for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce. Furthermore, you must have been a resident of the county where you’re filing for at least 90 days before your filing.
A divorce in Texas based on “separation” requires that the involved parties have lived independently for a minimum duration of “three years,” as stipulated by Texas Family Code § 6.006.
This legislation doesn’t mandate that either party remain within Texas. Residing in different states can serve as compelling proof of living “separate and apart” during this three-year period.
Moving Out of State
Being married doesn’t necessitate that a couple must reside together or that they can’t relocate to a different state away from their spouse. If you’re initiating a divorce, there’s no rule stating that both you and your spouse must remain in the same state.
Particularly if you don’t have children, you and your spouse are permitted to leave Texas and relocate to any location of your choice. While this might complicate and potentially prolong your divorce proceedings, it is entirely legal.
Filing for Divorce in Texas
A divorce in Texas is begun by the filing of a petition. The spouse who files is called the petitioner. The other spouse, called the respondent, has the opportunity to answer and respond in the case.
Service of Divorce Papers
Once you have filed your petition for divorce, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the petition and other divorce documents. This can be done by personal service, mail, or publication. If you are unable to serve your spouse directly, you may be able to ask the court for permission to serve them by publication.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when filing for divorce in Texas if your spouse lives outside of the state is the issue of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction refers to the court’s authority to hear your case. In order for a Texas court to have jurisdiction over your divorce case, one of the following must be true:
- You or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months before you filed for divorce.
- Your spouse must have been personally served with divorce papers in Texas.
- Your spouse must have voluntarily appeared in court in Texas.
Child Custody Aspects When Divorcing Out of State
If you have children and you’re filing for divorce in another state, you should be aware of child custody laws in Texas. These laws adhere to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This act aims to reduce child custody disputes that span across multiple states. This is done in the following ways.
Home State Jurisdiction
The term “home state” refers to the state where the child has resided with one of the parents for an uninterrupted period of six months before the divorce has been filed.
If a child has not established residency in any state for at least six months, a court in a state that has significant connections with the child and at least one parent may be given the jurisdiction to decide on the child’s custody.
Communication Between States
If more than one state has any substantial connection or provides substantial evidence, the courts of those two states will need to correspond with each other to determine which state will have the most significant connection to the child.
An Experienced Divorce Attorney Can Help
As filing for divorce can be complex on its own, it will be best if you get the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney at Bolton Law. Our attorneys are available 24/7 and will ensure that your rights are protected during this difficult time. Call us at 281-351-7897 to schedule your appointment.