When getting divorced, many couples move apart and start living separately. Whether you are seeking a no-fault divorce or simply living separately while the divorce is pending, one spouse might decide that they want to move back home or otherwise leave Texas. If this happens, but you still live in Texas, can you file your divorce case in Texas? Do you have to move the case to the state where your spouse is now living? Does the divorce case “follow” the wife? The Queenan Law Firm’s Dallas divorce attorneys explain where to file these kinds of divorce cases and how your case can still proceed in Texas if your spouse moves out of state.
Can My Spouse Move Out of State While a Divorce is Pending?
Just because a couple is still married does not mean that they need to live together or that they can’t move out of state away from their spouse. If you are filing for divorce, there is no requirement that you and your spouse both must stay in the state. Especially if you have no children, you and your spouse are allowed to move out of Texas and go wherever you would like. This may ultimately make it more difficult to file your divorce case and may lengthen the case, but it is indeed legal.
Even if you are getting a no-fault divorce based on separation, there is no requirement that both of you need to stay in Texas during the separation period. A Texas divorce based on “living apart” requires the parties to live separately and apart for “at least three years” under Texas Family Code § 6.006. This law does not require either party to stay in Texas. In fact, staying in two separate states entirely is excellent evidence that you truly were living “separate and apart” during those 3 years.
There are few reasons that you would not be allowed to leave the state. One potential issue arises if you have criminal charges that prevent you from leaving the state. Another could arise if you have a child custody or conservatorship order or agreement that restricts you from moving too far away from the other parent. Talk to a lawyer to see if you or your spouse can legally move during a pending divorce.
If My Spouse Leaves Texas, Can I Still Get Divorced in Texas?
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 been “a domiciliary of [Texas] for” 6 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 actually file your divorce case in Texas as soon as you’ve lived there for 6 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.
If there are any problems with meeting this residency requirement, 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 simply wait 6 months and you will meet the residency requirement, giving you the right to file your case there. 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 in which 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 a different state.
Are Divorces in a Different State Valid?
Marriages are generally treated as valid from state to state. This means that wherever you got married, the state you live in now should recognize your marriage as valid and give you all the rights and privileges of a married couple. Similarly, divorces are also generally recognized universally.
Texas law gives you the right to dissolve a marriage in Texas. Whether you were married in Texas or not does not factor into whether you can get divorced in Texas, because the primary requirements to get divorced are that you 1.) have a valid marriage and 2.) meet the state’s residency requirements.
Once you get divorced in Texas, the divorce should be recognized in any other state. Similarly, if you do need to get divorced in another state because you do not meet Texas’ residency requirements, your divorce should also be recognized in Texas. Talk to a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns about marriages or divorces taking place in different states or different countries.
Call Our Dallas Divorce Attorneys for a Free Legal Consultation
If you are considering filing for divorce in Texas and your spouse has moved out of state, contact The Queenan Law Firm today. Our Dallas family lawyers represent spouses filing for divorce, and we work to represent husbands and wives and protect their best interests as the case progresses. For a free legal consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (817) 719-8082.