Before you start filling out the paperwork to dissolve your marriage, you’ll want to make sure you are eligible to file for divorce in the Lone Star State. What are the residency requirements for divorce in Texas, and are there any exceptions to the rule?
In a nutshell, either you or your spouse needs to have lived in Texas for the last six months and in the county where you are filing for at least the last ninety days. There are some exceptions for military families and public servants, which we will explore in this article.
You are eligible to file for divorce in Texas if either you or your spouse has been living:
For more information about what divorce entails in Texas, check out our guide to the divorce process in Texas.
There are some exceptions for military families or people that are performing government service outside of Texas.
Even if you don’t meet the residency requirements listed above, if you are stationed out of Texas in the military or another government service, you might still be able to file for a Texas divorce so long as:
If you are the spouse of someone who is serving the military or another government service somewhere other than Texas, but Texas is your home state, the time you spend with your military spouse outside of Texas technically counts as time in the Lone Star State.
According to the Texas Family Code, you can also file for divorce in Texas if you are stationed in the state for military duty or another government service so long as you have been in the state for at least the last six months and in one county for the last ninety days.
This is also the case for a spouse of a person that has been stationed in a Texas county for those specified lengths of time. In both of these cases, the military member and the spouse are considered to be a "Texas domiciliary and a resident of that county for those periods for the purpose of filing suit for dissolution of marriage."
Important note: If you are a military family with children and you’ve been living in another state or country with your children, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney. Even though the State of Texas might consider you and your spouse to be Texas residents for the purposes of divorce, Texas courts might not have the authority or jurisdiction to issue court orders that involve your kids, such as child custody and child support.
You can file for divorce in Texas as long as you qualify based on the residency requirements outlined above. This is true even if your spouse doesn’t live in Texas.
That being said, it’s important to know that the court can only order your spouse to pay child support, pay a debt, or otherwise impose a personal obligation on your out-of-state spouse if they have personal jurisdiction over them.
You can find a list of different circumstances in which the court can have personal jurisdiction over an individual that isn’t living in Texas included with the Original Petition for Divorce.
When filling out this form, you’ll want to select any instances that are applicable to your particular situation. If you have questions about what it means for a court to have personal jurisdiction or you aren’t sure which situations apply, it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney.
You can file from out of state so long as your spouse still lives in Texas and meets the residency requirements listed above. In some cases, a couple will have already separated, and one party will move out of state. If you have moved out of Texas, but your spouse qualifies based on the residency requirements, you can file for divorce in the county where your spouse lives.
In some instances, your children might not be living in Texas when you file for divorce. How does this impact the court's ability to make orders related to custody and support?
According to Texas Family Code Section 152.201, there are specific requirements that must be met in order for a Texas Court to be able to make initial custody and visitation orders. These are:
If the conditions listed above don’t apply to your children and this is an issue for you as a part of your divorce, you’ll want to talk to a lawyer.
There are a handful of exceptions to this rule, and an attorney will be able to help walk you through the options in your particular case.
If you’re getting a divorce in Texas, one of the best things you can do is arm yourself with knowledge of the law. The more you know, the better prepared you can be to create a favorable post-divorce outcome for yourself and your family. To learn more about divorce, marriage, and family law in Texas, be sure to check out our library of Texas divorce articles.