A common question that many people have for divorce attorneys is whether it matters where they file for divorce and if filing first can impact the case.
In Texas, there are a few rules that dictate where your attorney can file a petition on your behalf.
Whether or not filing first can help you is debatable, although some divorce lawyers agree there are instances where filing first can help.
Regardless, you must do it in a permissible location.
Residency Dictates Where You File for Divorce
To file for a divorce in the state of Texas, you must be a resident of the state. Your spouse does not have to be a resident of the same state.
What divorce lawyers may not do is recommend which state to file in based on the possibility of more favorable divorce laws in one state versus the other.
Filing may only be done in the state where the filer has residency or in some cases, has a domicile.
Filing First Based on Residency Can Help in Certain Ways
Although many people believe it is best to be served with divorce papers rather than being the one to file them, divorce attorneys point out that there are times when the opposite might be true.
While it is not possible to choose between states to file for divorce based on a spouse’s residency, there may be certain advantages to being the one to file in your state.
If a divorce is inevitable and both you and your spouse know it, there could be some benefit to you and your divorce lawyer taking the first step and filing the request before your spouse can:
- Greater Control - The spouse who files for divorce generally has greater control over the proceedings if spouses live in different counties or even different states. The county where the divorce was first filed has dominant jurisdiction and is where the hearing will take place. Although there are a few minor exceptions that could reverse this, in most cases the filer retains dominant jurisdiction in their location.
- More Convenient - By filing for divorce in your own county if your spouse lives elsewhere, you retain some conveniences that can make the process easier on you. Overall, you will have less traveling to do, will spend less time dealing with the back and forth that is a frequent part of a divorce case, and will be closer to the court itself.
- Less Expensive - Beyond the convenience factor, by filing in your county you will likely incur fewer costs. While the filing fees and other legal fees will remain the same, the other party will have more travel expenses and possibly even greater legal fees, especially if they choose to work with divorce lawyers closer to where they live. Any necessary travel and lodging for their lawyer will be their responsibility.
While it does not actually matter to the court which spouse files for divorce, it may only be filed in the state and county where the filer has residency.
Divorce attorneys do recognize that if you and your spouse no longer live in the same state, you may gain some minor benefits in terms of convenience and cost.
Speak with the lawyer handling your divorce to discuss whether you filing first is recommended or if you should wait for your spouse to file.
Foreman Family Law
309 North Washington Avenue, Suite 12
Bryan TX 77803