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Austin TX Family Law Blog

Friday, September 22, 2017

Jurisdictional Challenges that Could Impact Your Texas Divorce

Where should I file for divorce?

Divorce often coincides with a move by one or both spouses.  As the family unit splits, one spouse may find themselves needing to move to accept a better job or live closer to relatives to have family support.  When a move happens before the divorce lawsuit is filed, it can result in jurisdictional challenges as well as child custody disputes.  Our Austin, Texas divorce lawyers at Stinson Moyle, PLLC discuss divorce and jurisdiction below.

Jurisdiction for Divorce

One of the first steps you must complete before filing for divorce will be determining where you can file.  For some spouses, this is an easy factor as they have both resided in the same place for some time.  For other spouses, jurisdiction could become a troubling issue.  Generally, you can file for divorce in Texas if either you or your spouse has lived in the state for six months and in the county in which you will file for 90 days.  

If the Texas court has jurisdiction over at least one spouse, then it can maintain jurisdiction to dissolve the marriage.  However, issues can arise where the court does not have personal jurisdiction over both spouses.  Even though the Texas judge has the power to grant the divorce, it does not mean that he or she can necessarily divide assets or tender orders regarding child custody over parties that it does not have personal jurisdiction over.  Divorcing spouses may find themselves hit with complex jurisdictional challenges if one spouse moves before the divorce is filed.

Spouses with knowledge as to potential jurisdiction issues will sometimes use this to their advantage.  A spouse planning a divorce may attempt to move the divorce action to another state with more favorable divorce laws or could convince their partner to move out of state, then file here in Texas.  Under some circumstances, a Texas court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a spouse that is not a resident of the state if the spouse’s last marital residence was in the state.  

Anyone contemplating filing for divorce who suspects their spouse may move should contact a divorce lawyer right away.  It is imperative that divorcing spouses take swift, knowledgeable legal action to foreclose potential jurisdictional issues.  


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