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How filing for divorce in a certain state can affect you

The magic of the Internet is that I don't know exactly where any of you reading his blog posts are physically located. I would assume, based on our physical location in the Houston area, that you are living in Southeast Texas and are interested in learning more about Texas family law. However, our area is about as diverse a region as any in the country and we are fortunate enough to have people from all over the country and all over the world living in Southeast Texas. As a result, I don't know if you are down the street from our office or around the world. In a way, it doesn't really matter. 

The decision to file for divorce is one that should only be considered after a great deal of contemplation. If you are experiencing marital difficulties, then it is advisable for you and your spouse to attempt counseling with the professional. You may be surprised to learn Just what speaking to someone who has been there before can help you gain as far as perspective on your relationship and hope for the future. While it is possible to reconcile with your spouse during the course of a divorce the odds of this occurring are far less than if you attempt a reconciliation prior to filing. 

We have heard a great deal of talk surrounding what this pandemic will do to the national divorce rates. A simple search on the Internet will reveal many articles showing how the rates of divorce in other countries have gone up significantly since the beginning of this coronavirus situation. Some types of stress are good, but many types are bad. The types of stress that we have undergone since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic are largely bad. You are relational, emotional and financial states may not be as solid as they were four or five months ago. 

When you and your spouse begin to feel stressed acutely in these areas then It is understandable for each of you to seek out ways to alleviate this stress. In the event that your marriage was already experiencing problems before the pandemic it is possible that divorce has been an option that you all have chosen to consider at this time. Stressful times do not necessarily mean that your divorce will be forthcoming, but it definitely adds onto the list of obstacles and hurdles that you all would have to get over in order to save your marriage. 

The coming of a new school year has probably not helped to bring about any less stress in your lives. In many cases, during most times, the new school year brings about a change of pace for children and parents alike that can be beneficial to a home. Getting the kids out of the house and into over team sort of helps the home find an equilibrium of sorts. This year, with more up in the air as to when in person schooling will begin again, we see that families are having to scramble to make sure their children will be educated for balancing the need for parents to work during this time. 

At their core, divorce is about the inability to communicate 

as a family law attorney, I hear all sorts of reasons and justifications for divorce. Many of them are quite detailed and many more or simple. The vast majority of divorces that I encounter are brought about by the inability or unwillingness to communicate with your spouse. You may be thinking that financial problems, infidelity or other reasons would have been the primary impetus for people divorcing. However, I think if you drill down beneath the surface of those reasons you get to a fundamental inability or unwillingness to communicate. 

If you are not able or willing to communicate with your spouse about whatever problems you perceive in the relationship it is next to impossible for you all to fix them. A common Complaint that I hear from husbands about wives is that we as men Will say that we are not mind readers and cannot always tell what is bothering our wives. On the other hand, I hear from wives and women that when they do communicate problems to their spouses their husbands are unwilling or unmotivated to continue the discussion and engaging conversation. This is not a new concept and I'm not breaking any new ground by telling you that men and women act and communicate differently from one another for the most part. 

My point in telling you all of this is that no matter where you are physically in our world, if you are reading this blog post then I have a pretty good idea that you are considering getting a divorce. You may not have ever contacted a family law attorney or thought about life after your marriage but if you are reading this blog the seed has been planted in some way in your mind that a divorce may be a possibility. From my experience, it is a larger step to go from a content marriage 2 reading up on divorce than it is from reading up on divorce to actually filing for divorce. 

So, if this is where you are, and you believe that a divorce is at least somewhat likely to occur then you should begin to plan for your case in for your post-divorce life. However, that does not mean that you should not engage even more diligently in Attempting to salvage your marriage and reconcile if you believe that that is possible. It may be emotionally messy and draining during this pandemic to attempt to do that, but I can tell you that a divorce is much, much more effort. People do get divorced greater frequency than ever before in today's world but if the same effort were applied to saving your marriage, I think you would be surprised as to what you could accomplish together. 

Where are you file for divorce matters

from a logistical perspective the above statement is obviously true. Whether you file for divorce in New York state or Harris County, that will mean Different situations arise in different scenarios become important for you and your family. For the purposes of today's blog posts, I am going to provide you with general information About filing for divorce in Harris County (where Houston is located), any other County in Texas and in other states which do not adhere to Community property principles like Texas does.

The decision to file for divorce, and where you actually file your case, is not always based on where you want to be able to file. In Texas you need to make sure that before you file your divorce that the court you file in will have jurisdiction over your case. Jurisdiction is a legal term that basically means that the court has the right 2 hear your case, make orders relating to you and your spouse, decide issues of child custody and divide up your marital estate. Jurisdiction means different things for different types of cases but since we are talking about divorce these are the main things that we need to keep in mind.

For a Texas family court to gain jurisdiction over your case two things must be true. The first thing is that you must have been a resident of Texas for at least six months prior to you are having filed for divorce. Additionally, in order to file for divorce in a particular county you must have been a resident of that county for at least the preceding 90 days. For most of us, that won't be a problem given that we tend to have routes where we live to one extent or another period however, if this pandemic has caused you to move in order to be closer to family or to take a new job then you may not be in a position to file for divorce anywhere right now. 

Once you have determined where you are able to file for divorce you must learn the process of doing so. If you go to the Harris County district clerk's website, you will learn some basic information about filing for divorce in the family courts of Harris County. Harris County is the most populous County in the state and as a result we have many family courts here In Houston. Generally speaking, the process of getting divorced in each of those family courts is the same. However, each judge may have some varying requirements on the micro level that you and your attorney will need to be aware of before a divorce can be finalized. 

An interesting situation may take place where you have the ability to file for divorce in Harris County or your spouse may be able to file for divorce in one of these surrounding counties. Something that I learned years ago about some married people is that they live apart from one another for months and sometimes years before actually getting a divorce. This means that you could be living here in the Houston area while your spouse has lived in Conroe for the past six months. In a situation like that, you could file for divorce in Harris County and your spouse can file for divorce in Montgomery County. What does this mean for you in the long term? 

The first thing that would jump out to me is that if you do not file for divorce in Harris County you may be traveling up to Conroe in order to have your divorce case heard. At that point it could be a race to the courthouse where the first person to file would be able to determine the venue for your divorce. What this should tell you is that if you are sure that a divorce is necessary and that if you believe that your spouse is thinking the same way you are then it would make sense for you to go ahead and file for divorce in Harris County so that you do not have to travel as far should you ever need to go to court.

What about getting a divorce outside this state of Texas?

While I am not an expert in the divorce or family laws of any other state other than Texas, I can tell you one big difference between getting divorced in Texas in getting divorced in another state is in regard to laws surrounding the division of your property in the divorce. From what I understand, most states generally adhere to similar principles when it comes to child custody, conservatorships possession in child support. While there may be some differences here and there the most significant difference between Texas and most other states is how marital property is divided.

Texas is a Community property state. This means that it is presumed that, at the beginning of your divorce, all property owned by you and your spouse is Community property and must be divided in the divorce case. It does not matter whose income was used to purchase the item more property or whose name appears on the title. If income from either of your places of employment were used to purchase the property and it was purchased during the marriage it is considered to be just as much your property as it is your spouse. It does not matter if you're deed to the house bears only your name. It does not matter if your boat bears only your wife's name. Texas looks to when you became owners of the property and less on the source of the funds used to purchase that property. 

In other states, known as common law property states, it is a much more exact science where the spouse who earns more money typically is able to retain more marital property. In this way, Texas and other community property states armor egalitarian or equitable in how marital property is divided. This is the big difference between getting divorced in Texas and getting divorced in other states. However, to get a clear picture on what your total circumstances are I would advise you speak to a licensed Texas family law attorney before making any decisions about divorce.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations in person, via video and over the phone six days a week. We thank you for joining us today in our blog and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow as we share more unique content about the world of Texas family law. 


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