Can you get divorced in Texas if you were married in another state?
The answer to this question is yes, if you or your spouse qualify as residents in Texas and the state has jurisdiction over your case. To qualify as a resident of Texas you must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. In addition, you must have been a resident of the county in which you are filing in for at least three months prior to filing for divorce.
Keep in mind that the jurisdiction issue is another one that you have to get answered prior to filing for divorce. For instance, if you live in Harris County and meet the residency requirements you may still find that the family law courts in Harris County do not have jurisdiction over your case. The reason for that is your children may reside elsewhere outside the county. In addition, you need to consider where your property is located, if any, that is shared between you and your spouse.
Allow me to give you all an example to illustrate the points I was making in the previous paragraphs. I had a consultation with a gentleman who had been separated from his wife for over a year. His work had moved him to Houston from South Carolina where his wife and child were living. He came in to see if he could have his divorce case heard in Houston. I told him that while he did meet the residency requirement due to his having lived here for more than a year, it is unlikely that the family law courts would have jurisdiction over his case.
For one, his child had never even been to Texas. He had seen his child over the past year but he had been visiting the child in South Carolina. Texas and the child had no substantial contact and as a result it is probable they would decline any jurisdiction. Likewise, this gentleman owned a home but it was located in South Carolina. For a similar reason I believe that the court in Texas would decline jurisdiction over the property matters as well. These spouses were not married in Texas, had no relationship with the state other than the husband having had resided here for the past year. His best bet was to file for divorce in South Carolina where his child and property are located.
To get a divorce in Texas do you need to prove your spouse was at fault for the breakup?
In many ways this question makes sense. Most legal cases require the filing or petitioning party to shoulder a burden of proof in order to be successful in obtaining the relief that he or she is petitioning for. This is not the case in a divorce, however. There is no requirement that you as the filing party prove fault on behalf of your spouse.
Texas is a no fault divorce state which means that there does not necessarily have to be any fault found on the part of either you or your spouse in order for the divorce to move forward. Irreconcilable differences is the most commonly utilized reason for a divorce in Texas. While fault grounds associated with infidelity, domestic violence, abandonment and others do occur for the most part spouses will settle their divorce case and utilize irreconcilable differences as the rationale for the divorce.
Fault grounds like infidelity or domestic abuse can have an impact on your case, however. If that finding is appropriate then a judge can utilize it to restrict the visitation rights of your spouse with your children after the divorce. Or, if it is found in a trial that your spouse spent a great deal of marital assets on their paramour you may be awarded a disproportionate (greater than fifty percent share) of the community estate as a result. Keep this in mind and talk to your attorney about this early and often in your divorce case.
Can you be awarded alimony in a Texas divorce?
Spousal maintenance is what you are able to win in a divorce case, as opposed to what is widely known as alimony. Spousal maintenance is a payment of a specific amount of money from your spouse to you (or vice versa) for a specific period of time. The laws on spousal maintenance are pretty restrictive and courts do not like to order the payment of spousal maintenance unless absolutely necessary.
You must show that you are not able to meet your minimal, basic needs after the divorce due to a disability, inability to work or need to care for a disabled child. You can also be awarded spousal maintenance if your spouse participated in domestic violence against you within the prior years before your divorce began.
Look to the Texas Family Code as far as limitations of how much spousal maintenance can be paid and how long it can be paid for. The most important restriction is that if you and your spouse were not marred at least ten years prior to filing for divorce you cannot be awarded spousal maintenance in your divorce.
What will happen with your children in the divorce?
This is the most important issue in your case (if you have children), so I wanted to save its discussion until the end of today’s blog post. Consider that issues related to custody, including where your child will live primarily after your divorce, will be decided in the divorce. In addition to that important issue you and your spouse will work on negotiating a split of the rights and duties as they pertain to raising your child and making decisions that are in their best interests.
For example- have you given any consideration to how medical or educational decisions are to be made? There are a number of different ways to divide or share these types of responsibilities and each family has their own, unique set of circumstances to be aware of.
Keep in mind that you and your spouse will be given ample opportunity to decide these issues for yourselves before handing them over to a judge for his or her decision in a trial. Consider that you and your spouse, while your opinions may be different, will know your children much better than a judge ever could. Therefore, it may be difficult but you should focus on working these issues out directly with your spouse. Use your attorneys and mediation to facilitate compromises.
How important is it to hire an attorney for your divorce?
You do not have to hire a lawyer for your divorce. There is no requirement on the law that you must do so. Many of the issues that you will be faced with are not overly difficult or complex. Thus, you may be able to reason through many of them.
The biggest reason why many people consider going about a divorce on their own (pro se, in legal terms) is due to the cost of hiring an attorney. Why hire an attorney, some say, when your divorce will be relatively simple- especially if you and your spouse have already agreed on most of the issues of your case?
A divorce will leave a significant impact on your life in the short term and long term. We have gone through a multitude of subjects the past few days that should indicate just how important your divorce is for you and your family. For a relatively small investment in an attorney you can ensure that someone with experience and knowledge in the process is supporting, advising and advocating for you.
Questions about your divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC work on behalf of the people in our community- just like you. We value the opportunity to represent you in family law cases across southeast Texas. To learn more about your situation and how a legal case may impact it, please contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations with a licensed family law attorney six days a week.