Does Texas Have Jurisdiction Over My Divorce?
Before you even speak to an attorney, it may be helpful to know what court has jurisdiction over your divorce. Knowing how the Judge in your case is likely to rule and what their pet peeves are can be incredibly beneficial to the presentation of your case so it is important to speak to an attorney who practices often in the jurisdiction in which you will ultimately file your case. Read this article before you start reaching out to attorneys to make sure you are scheduling a consultation with an attorney who is going to be knowledgeable in your jurisdiction.
The general rule for jurisdiction in a Texas divorce is that at least one spouse must have been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding 6 month period and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90 day period. This means that if the filing spouse is not a resident of Texas, a suit for divorce can still be maintained in Texas if he other spouse has been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding 6 month period. Generally, a person has been domiciled in Texas if they have resided in the state with the intent to make Texas his or her “fixed abode”. The court will consider many factors in determining a person’s “fixed abode” including where a person spends most of their time, where they receive mail, what address is used to file a tax return, where does a person register their vehicle, whether they have a Texas drivers license, and where a person is registered to vote. A number of factors are considered in determining whether one intends to make a residence a fixed abode so if you are not sure if you or your spouse has been domiciled in Texas for the requisite period of time, it is best to talk to an attorney.
There are several exceptions to the general rule outlined in the paragraph above for members of the armed forces. First, time that a spouse spends in the armed forced outside of Texas is still considered residence in the State of Texas and in the county in which they lived. If you are not sure whether your spouse was previously domiciled in Texas, look at his or her Military Paystub (LES) and see what it lists as their home state. This will be a strong indicator that they are a domiciliary of Texas. Second, a spouse is stationed in Texas can meet the jurisdictional requirements despite the fact that they may not intend to make Texas their permanent residence as long as they have been stationed in Texas for the preceding 6 month period and in the filing county for the preceding 90 day period. These exceptions provide some jurisdictional flexibility for members of the armed forces and their spouses.