Can you file for divorce in a different state or county in Texas than the one you live in? The answer is: it depends.
For example, you can file for divorce in a Texas county you don’t live in so long as your spouse has lived there for at least ninety days and in Texas for six months. You can also choose to file for divorce in another state if your spouse fulfills the residency requirements in that state. Before you head to the courthouse, though, you'll want to learn more about the potential implications of filing for divorce in a state or county you don't live in.
When you’re contemplating filing for divorce, one primary question is what state and county you should file your divorce petition in. If you and your spouse have lived in the same Texas county for a long time, the answer to the question is pretty straightforward.
If you’ve moved, your spouse has moved, one of you is in the military or public service, or one of you is contemplating moving, though, things can start to get more complicated.
The short answer is: it is possible to file for divorce in a different state than the one you live in, and it is possible to file for divorce in a different county in Texas than the one you live in. However, this requires that your spouse meets the residency requirements of the other state or county. On top of that, you will want to familiarize yourself with issues relating to jurisdiction before filing.
The residency requirements to get a divorce in Texas are as follows:
There are some exceptions for people that are serving in the military or another government service outside of Texas. They can still qualify to file for divorce in Texas if:
If you accompanied your spouse outside of Texas because they are serving in the military or another government service, these same rules apply. The time you spend outside of Texas with a military spouse still counts as time spent in Texas so long as Texas is your home state.
Note: Individuals that are stationed at a military base in Texas or are otherwise serving the government in Texas can file for divorce in the state so long as they have been in the county for at least ninety days and the state for at least six months.
Many states have requirements regarding residency that need to be met for a person to file for divorce in their courts in order to obtain jurisdiction over a divorce suit. Jurisdiction is the authority that a court has to hear specific types of legal cases.
The requirements vary between the states when it comes to subject-matter jurisdiction in divorce cases. For example, Texas requires one spouse to have lived in Texas for six months and in a particular county for ninety days before the divorce can be filed. Washington, on the other hand, doesn’t have any requirements like this. This means that it is possible to move to Washington state and file for a divorce in a Washington court the day after you move.
It’s important to understand, though, that just because you have proper subject-matter jurisdiction doesn’t mean that a court has the power to make orders regarding custody or divide your property.
In Texas, the courts are able to exercise personal jurisdiction over a person that lives out of state if the following is true:
A Texas court has the authority to issue binding orders once it is able to establish personal jurisdiction. There are a few more circumstances where Texas courts can have jurisdiction over an out-of-state party, including:
Essentially, issues of a jurisdiction can be complicated when one spouse doesn’t live in the same state where divorce is filed. It’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer if you’re thinking about filing for divorce in the state where your spouse is a resident or if your spouse has moved out of state.
When you are getting divorced and the two parties live in different states, it’s important to understand that the decisions a court makes in terms of spousal support, property division, custody, and child support could be considered invalid. That is unless the spouse that is not a resident either acts as if the divorce was valid (i.e. paying court-ordered support) or consented to the jurisdiction of the court.
If you have children, you will also want to research the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. It’s important to determine which state has jurisdiction to make orders regarding your children before filing for divorce.
If you’re worried that your spouse is going to move your child without notice or pull some other sneaky trick, you’ll want to consult with an attorney.
It is possible to file for divorce in another state if you live in Texas so long as your circumstance meets the requirements of the state law where you are planning to file. All states require that one of the two spouses is a resident of the state. In many cases, one spouse needs to have been a resident for at least six months and sometimes a full year.
Before you file for divorce in the state where your spouse lives, though, you’ll want to think about the implications. You probably shouldn’t expect that your divorce will be settled in one court appearance, and traveling back and forth from your home state to the state where you filed for divorce will likely start getting pretty expensive.
On top of that, if you ever want to make modifications to your divorce decree (such as child custody and support or the property settlement agreement), you will have to file this paperwork in the state where you filed for divorce. This means that you could be signing up for traveling in and out of the state for many years to come.
You can choose to file for divorce in the Texas county where your spouse has been a resident for at least ninety days (assuming they have also been a resident of Texas for at least six months.)
You can file for divorce in Texas if you live out of state so long as your spouse meets the Texas residency requirements. Depending on the residency requirements in your new state, you may want to file for divorce in the state you are currently living in rather than Texas.
If you have minor children, you will want to talk to a lawyer about the court’s jurisdiction in relation to custody and support orders to ensure that you are filing for divorce in a way that is in the best interest of the children.
When both spouses don’t live in the same county or state, it can certainly add some complexity to the process. If you are uncertain about whether you should file for divorce in a different state or county in Texas, it’s a good idea to at least consult with a lawyer about the possible advantages and disadvantages of going this route.
For more information about your rights in a Texas divorce, check out our articles at TexasDivorceLaws.org.