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Residency Requirements: How Long Do I Have to Live in Texas to Get a Divorce in Texas?
That’s a pretty simple question, with a somewhat complicated answer.
The short answer is this: If you or your spouse currently reside in Texas, either of you can file for divorce in Texas immediately.
There is a great deal of misinformation floating around. Some espoused by attorneys. Many attorneys believe that to file for divorce in Texas, one of the parties needs to have lived in Texas for over six months. That’s just not true.
Texas law states that in order to “maintain” a suit for divorce, one of the parties must have been “a domiciliary of this state for the preceding six-month period; and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period.” That’s Section 6.301 of the Texas Family Code.
The keyword in that law is “maintain.” Courts have long held that if a divorce is filed prior to the time that the six month – 90-day requirement is met, the proper remedy is to abate the case – put it on hold – not dismiss the case, except in certain circumstances.
Those circumstances are when neither party has met the six month – 90-day requirement, and neither is going to meet it in the foreseeable future.
Moreover, if there are children of the marriage, and both spouses and the children have moved to Texas, there is no waiting period to file for the “custody” portion of the case. You can literally move to Texas Monday morning and file Monday afternoon.
Keep in mind that there are a number of other considerations involved in a complete jurisdiction and venue analysis, but the bottom line is: If you or your spouse reside in Texas and anyone tells you that you cannot file your divorce case here, they are wrong.
For a thorough discussion of the law on this topic by the First District Court of Appeals in Houston, see the case of Willig v. Diaz, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 5362 (Tex. App. Houston 1st Dist. May 19, 2016).