In Texas, you have to fulfill certain conditions before you can file for marriage dissolution. One of them is a residency requirement, which is the minimum amount of time a petitioner or their spouse has to live in the state before they are legally allowed to file for divorce there. The local court can have jurisdiction over your case only if this condition is met.
The Residency Requirements for Filing a Texas Divorce
How long do you have to live in Texas to be a resident? Under Texas state laws, before filing for a divorce in Texas, one of the spouses has to live in the state for at least six months. Besides, there are residency requirements for divorce in specific counties. You must be a resident of the county in which you file for at least 90 days.
Proving Residency in Texas
In some divorce cases, you will be asked to prove residency in Texas. As a legal resident of Texas, you should have paperwork showing that you lived in the state for at least 6 months and established a domicile there.
Proof of Domicile
A domicile is a place where you maintain a permanent home. In order to support the establishment of a domicile in Texas, you need to provide one of the following documents:
- Employment verification or self-employment earnings statement. You must also provide bank receipts.
- Documents of real estate ownership. It can be your own or shared with your spouse.
- Certificate of marriage with a resident of Texas.
- Document of business ownership in the state.
You will also have to provide one document from the list of forms that prove your physical Texas residency. As a rule, two documents are enough to prove Texas residency. Alternatively, you can get a witness to testify, on paper, that you are a Texas resident.
Proof of Physical Residency
To show that you have physically resided in TX, you will have to provide one documents from the list below:
- Utility bills (with your name).
- College or university transcript.
- Driver’s license or ID card with origination date.
- Voter registration card with origination date.
- Statements provided by at least one social service agency.
- Rental agreement.
- Bank receipts.
- Paycheck stubs.
The following documents can be provided to establish both domicile and physical residency:
- Tax returns (the last year’s records).
- Business license.
- Any immigration documents.
- Leave and Earnings Statement.
Filing from Out of State
Divorce when living in different states is mainly complicated due to jurisdiction issues. A local court needs to be legally granted a right to make decisions concerning all parties to the case and their property.
If you are the filing party and are domiciled in Texas, the court may establish a Texas divorce jurisdiction over your spouse if the last time you lived together was in this state, and it was less than 2 years ago. Jurisdiction establishment will automatically extend to your children if any.
If you are a resident of another state trying to file in Texas, make sure that your spouse is domiciled there and file in the county where they have resided for at least 90 days. Out of state divorce in Texas will not necessarily require you to be present in court if you and your spouse are in agreement. Otherwise, or upon court request, you will have to travel to be present at the hearings.
What are the Options if You Do Not Meet the Residency Requirement?
As establishing residency in Texas to dissolve a marriage there takes half a year, you might want to consider filing for divorce in another state where you have previously resided or just waiting.
In general, to file for divorce in another state, you must meet the residency requirements there so that the court can have jurisdiction over your divorce case. It means that, as a rule, you will have to live there for a certain amount of time before filing or show intent to stay there permanently.
Otherwise, you will have to wait to establish residency in Texas or contact a lawyer if you believe there may be an exception in your case. If you are a non-resident but wish to start your divorce in Texas and become a resident, you do not need to apply for Texas residency. It will be granted to you automatically after you meet the 6-month requirements.
Residency Requirements and Military Family Law Cases
Texas residency for military members is the same as for civilians – 6 months in the state and 90 days in a specific county. In this case, either you or your spouse may initiate a case in that county. If you are stationed in Texas but meet the residency requirements in your home state, you need to consider where it would be best to file before you start preparing the documents.
It is a frequent situation for spouses serving in the military to have a home in Texas but to be absent for an extended period of time serving in another state. In this case, they are still eligible to have their divorce filed in Texas. According to the Texas family code, the time spent serving in another area will still be recognized as if the spouses lived in Texas.