Spouses often decide to “take a break” and live separately for a while and sometimes the spouses live separately in different states. (Don’t forget that Texas does not recognize a legal separation). Sometimes the spouses work things out and get back together, but sometimes things just don’t work out and one or the other decides on divorce. This can be simple if each spouse is living in Texas, but if one has moved away things get a little more complicated.
Thankfully, only one spouse must live in Texas in order for a Texas court to grant the divorce. There are, however, some requirements that must be met. The Texas spouse must have lived in the state for the past six months and must have been a resident of the county in which the divorce lawsuit is filed for at least the ninety days prior to the divorce lawsuit being filed. These residency requirements discourage “forum shopping” in which a spouse moves to a state just to get divorced in order to take advantage of the law in that state.
Note that it does not have to be the Texas-based spouse that files for divorce in Texas. If your soon-to-be-ex has lived in Texas for at least six months and in the county in which the divorce lawsuit is filed for at least ninety days and you live elsewhere, you can still file for divorce in the Texas county where your spouse resides.
Out of state parties to divorce also give rise to another more complicated issue: the personal jurisdiction of the court. Personal jurisdiction is complex, but suffice it to say that a court only has personal jurisdiction over people—meaning the ability to force them to take certain actions—if it would be fair to do so, i.e. if you live in that state or have a lot of contact with that state.
If you are contemplating divorce, or if you think your spouse is thinking about divorce, you need an experienced divorce litigation attorney on your side to fight for your rights and help you navigate the complicated issues that arise when divorcing spouses live in different states. Contact Kirker│Davis LLP to schedule a meeting with a divorce litigation attorney today.