How Long Do I Have to Live in Texas Before Filing for Divorce?

May 16th, 2017 by Tad Nelson in Divorce

One of the common questions we get regarding divorce is whether both spouses have to live in Texas. Indeed, some people think you have to get divorced in the same state that you were married in or lived together as spouses before separating. This is actually now how the law works.

Residency Requirements for a Texas Divorce

Before you can file any type of lawsuit, including divorce, you need to establish proper jurisdiction and venue. Jurisdiction refers to a court’s legal authority to hear the lawsuit. Venue means the proper location, i.e. the specific county where the case should be heard.

The Texas Family Code states that no suit for divorce can be maintained in the state unless both of the following conditions are met:

  1. One or both spouses was a resident of Texas for the six-month period prior to the divorce filing; and
  2. Either spouse has been a resident of the county where the lawsuit was filed for at least the previous 90 days.

These requirements are not optional. And when filing for a divorce, a spouse’s petition must clearly state the residency requirement has been met. Failure to do so can result in dismissal of the case, which can unnecessarily extend the time it takes to achieve a final divorce.

For example, a Texas appeals court recently rejected a divorce petition for the second time because of failure to comply with the residency rules. In this case, the husband lives in Oklahoma. The wife moved to Johnson County, Texas, and filed for divorce there. The problem was that while she resided in Texas for 91 days before the date of her court hearing, that was not the same as 90 days before the petition was filed, which is what the law requires.

The appeals court said the wife had to file an amended petition only after she satisfied the 90-day residency rule. The trial court had no authority to ignore this rule, the appeals court said, because under Texas law, a person’s right to sue is conditioned on establishing one spouse’s residency.

Do You Need Help With a Houston Divorce?

This all may sound very nitpicky to you, but the laws exist for a reason. Especially when dealing with something as emotional and contentious as a divorce, it is important to follow all Texas requirements to the letter. A qualified Galveston divorce lawyer can assist you in making sure your case is not derailed by procedural errors. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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