What Happens if I File for Divorce in Texas but My Child Lives Somewhere Else?

What Happens if I File for Divorce in Texas but My Child Lives Somewhere Else?

Say that you and/or your spouse have resided in Texas for the past six months (sufficient for the state to have jurisdiction over your divorce) and you have filed for divorce here. However, your child has been living with a relative in another state or country and has never set foot in the state of Texas.

Given these facts, the Texas court in which your divorce is filed does not have jurisdiction over your child in order to issue orders that have to do with rights, duties and even child support.

Understanding Jurisdiction in Child Custody and Divorce Cases

Courts need subject matter jurisdiction to enforce orders, especially if a child involved has never lived in Texas. In divorces with children, the child must be part of the lawsuit if no other court has issued orders.

Sometimes, separated parents seek court orders for child support from one parent to the other. The court that decides on child support gains exclusive jurisdiction over the child, affecting future divorce proceedings. If legal intricacies seem overwhelming, a Harris County divorce case story can illustrate this better.

Two Persons, Two Countries and One Child

A Mexican-descent couple in Harris County faced marital challenges, leading the husband to file for a “no fault” divorce. They had a child, and the father aimed to be named the child’s conservator, deciding the primary residence.

As the father sought divorce, the mother and child resided in Mexico. He regularly sent child support funds there. The mother waived her right to formal divorce paper service, but didn’t provide the child’s living details to the court. This lack of information resulted in the Texas court dismissing the divorce case.

Believing this dismissal to be erroneous, the father appealed to a Texas appellate court, seeking to reinstate the divorce.

What Does a Court Need to Establish Jurisdiction Over a Divorce in Texas?

What Happens if I File for Divorce in Texas but My Child Lives Somewhere Else?

For starters, at least one of the two persons getting the divorce need to have been a resident of Texas for at least six months prior to the filing of the original petition for divorce. In addition, for whatever county the divorce is filed the spouse must have been a resident there for at least the prior three months.

Meeting that requirement satisfies the jurisdiction requirements for the divorce. A divorce court can make rulings on issues related to property and other non-child related activities of the divorce.

That still leaves us with the question as to when a Texas court has the jurisdiction has the ability to render judgments on child custody, support and other matters integral to the child.

The child should have lived in Texas when the divorce started or for at least six months prior.
Courts in other states or countries might be unable or unwilling to handle the child’s case.
If an out-of-state court deems Texas a better fit for the case, two conditions apply:

  • The child and at least one parent need significant ties to Texas.
  • There should be ample evidence in Texas concerning the child.

Expanding on these criteria, if the father failed to show his son’s current address and five-year residency, the Texas court’s lack of jurisdiction seems valid. Even if the mother waived service, this doesn’t negate the court’s need for jurisdiction over the child. The court could still grant a divorce, but it couldn’t issue orders regarding the child without jurisdiction.

Questions on divorce when a spouse lives abroad? Contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

What Happens if I File for Divorce in Texas but My Child Lives Somewhere Else?

I will fully admit that this sort of subject matter (no pun intended) is not overly interesting and can actually be tough to understand. If you believe that any of the above scenarios are relevant to you and a divorce that you’ve been thinking of filing it is best to speak to a lawyer prior to proceeding with the divorce. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are equipped to help you and your family accomplish whatever goals you’ve set for yourself. Consultations are free of charge and are available six days a week.

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Adobe Stock 62844981[2]If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: 16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce

  1. I Am Already Divorced. Can My Ex Divorce Me in Another State?
  2. Where in the world did I file this case? Jurisdiction in Child Custody Cases
  3. Where do you file a divorce in Texas and what are the steps after filing?
  4. Can I get a divorce even if my spouse lives in another country?
  5. The Effect of Divorcing a United States Citizen While a Non-U.S. Citizen
  6. I am Not a United States Citizen and Live in Spring, Texas Can I file for Divorce?
  7. How to Divorce Your Spouse in Texas When Their Whereabouts are Unknown
  8. The Dirty Trick of Filing for Divorce in Another City
  9. The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids
  10. Children’s Passports and International Travel after Texas Divorce

Frequently Asked Questions

Who gets the house in a divorce with children in Texas?

The division of property, including the house, in a divorce with children in Texas depends on various factors such as the best interests of the children, financial circumstances, and contributions to the property during the marriage. It’s essential to work with an attorney to understand your specific situation and the options available to you.

Who gets custody in a divorce in Texas?

In Texas, the court makes custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. The primary consideration is to provide a stable and nurturing environment. Both parents have an equal opportunity to seek custody, and the court evaluates several factors before making a decision.

What rights do mothers have in Texas divorce?

Mothers in Texas have the same legal rights as fathers in a divorce. The court’s main focus is the best interests of the child, and gender is not a determining factor. Both parents have the right to seek custody, visitation, and participate in making important decisions for the child’s well-being.

How long does it take to get a divorce with a child in Texas?

The time it takes to get a divorce with a child in Texas can vary based on the complexity of the case, cooperation between the parties, and court availability. On average, it may take several months to finalize a divorce with child-related issues. Working with an experienced attorney can help expedite the process and ensure your rights and the child’s interests are protected.

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with a Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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