Moving is inevitable. Families relocate across state lines every day, and usually, the last thing a spouse thinks about is how this move could impact a future divorce proceeding, however, this is something that you can— and should—consider before moving. No two states’ laws are the same, and some are drastically different in what they offer divorcing couples. For instance, one state might favor the awarding of alimony, while another makes alimony quite difficult to obtain. One state might force an obligor to pay thousands more in monthly child support than a neighboring state.

When spouses reside in different states, things can get complicated—and costly. If the husband lives in California and the wife lives in Massachusetts, which state has jurisdiction over the divorce? If both have met the residency requirements for their respective states, either state can hear the case—it simply becomes a race to file and serve the petition for divorce on the other spouse. However, despite living in Massachusetts, the wife can still file for divorce in California because the husband met the specific residency requirements. In this instance, a spouse should consult with attorneys from both states to determine which one would be more favorable based upon each party’s specific goals and needs.

Is your case guaranteed to stay in the state in which the initial petition was filed?

Just because a spouse files for divorce in a different state does not necessarily mean that your case is stuck there. For instance, if the wife left the husband and kids in Texas and moved to Washington, where she can essentially file for divorce immediately, the husband could ask the Washington court to decline jurisdiction of the wife’s suit and let the husband proceed with the divorce in Texas because all of the parties’ property is essentially in Texas, as are the relevant witnesses regarding the children and the marriage. However, asking a court to decline jurisdiction is never a guarantee and can be expensive to litigate.

Texas, like most states, has a residency requirement for divorce cases.  Under Texas Family Code 6.301, either party can be a resident of Texas for the divorce case to be legally filed, tried, and finalized by a Texas court.

More specifically, the residency rule requires either the petitioner or the respondent to have lived in Texas for six months before filing for divorce.  This means that if you were the one who moved away from your spouse to go to Texas, you could file your divorce case in Texas as soon as you’ve lived there for six months.  In addition to being a resident of Texas, you must also be a resident of the county you are filing in for the 90 days preceding your filing.  This means that if you or your spouse moved apart within Texas, you must have lived in your new county for at least 90 days before you can legally file your case there.

Suppose there are problems with meeting this residency requirement. In that case, you can file in any other location where you meet the residency requirement, or you can wait until you meet the residency requirements where you live in Texas.  If you just moved to Texas, you can wait six months, and you will meet the residency requirement, giving you the right to file your case here.  If you are filing a divorce case based on living separate and apart, you can use part of that 3-year separation period to acquire residency in Texas and the county you will be filing.

Texas’ residency requirement allows either party to file the divorce case based on the other party’s residency.  This means that even if your spouse leaves Texas and moves away, they can still file a divorce case against you in Texas if you still meet the residency requirement there.  This is a very flexible residency requirement and can even allow you to get divorced in Texas if your spouse moved to a different country, let alone another state. The Werner Law Group can guide you and help you with your divorce process. We often handle long distance divorces and even divorces against deported spouses. Text with Leslie today @ 361-648-6888 or use the contact us form to have one of our knowledgeable family law staff reach out to you.