People move, especially when separating and divorcing, leaving divorce lawyers frequently answering the important question about where those divorces can actually take place.

Divorces can only happen in a state that has jurisdiction.

Determining that can sometimes be a bit complicated if both spouses have moved from the state in which they were married.

Divorce attorneys can help spouses determine which state has jurisdiction so they can successfully file for divorce.

Jurisdiction And Filing For Divorce

Couples seeking a divorce can only file, with or without the help of a divorce attorney, in a state that has jurisdiction for them.

Jurisdiction is based on the couple fitting certain state requirements that give that state control over divorce filings.

There is no question of jurisdiction when both spouses are still living in the state in which they were married; however, divorce lawyers advise clients that as soon as one spouse leaves, the state with jurisdiction could change.

How Can Jurisdiction For Divorce Filings Change?

When both spouses no longer live in the same state where they were married, state jurisdiction can change.

Spouses should enlist the expertise of a divorce lawyer to help them determine which state has jurisdiction over their divorce based on some specific criteria.

As such, jurisdiction is determined by divorce attorneys based on these three factors:

  • Residency Requirements - One or both spouses must fit the residency requirements of a state for them or their divorce attorneys to file for divorce in that state. In Texas, the residency requirement for at least one spouse is 6 months of state residency and 3 months of residency within the same county.
  • Where The Children Live - When one spouse meets the residency requirements of their state and the children live with that spouse, that is the state where they and their divorce lawyers can file. Even if the other spouse also meets their own residency requirements, it is the location of the children that determines the state with jurisdiction.
  • Who Files First - When two spouses each meet the residency requirements of two different states where they live, jurisdiction goes to the state where the first spouse to file resides. Though many spouses do not want to be the first to file, this is one instance where divorce lawyers might suggest that they do file first so that jurisdiction stays in their state.

Contact An Experienced Divorce Mediation Attorney

When couples divorce, they and their divorce lawyers may only file in a state that has jurisdiction to legalize their divorce.

For couples who have not moved out of state since they married, there is no question that jurisdiction remains in that state.

If one or both spouses have moved out of state, spouses should speak with a divorce attorney about which state actually has jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction depends on the time of residency in a state, where a couple’s children live, and sometimes who files first.

An experienced divorce lawyer can help any spouse seeking a divorce determine the state where they are residents and can file divorce papers.

Schreier & Housewirth Family Law

1800 West Bowie Street, Suite 200-E
Fort Worth TX 76110



Gregory L. Housewirth is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist practicing in Fort Worth Texas. With 30 years of family law experience, Mr. Housewirth has represented hundreds of clients in divorce, custody, CPS, modification, and grandparent cases. In addition, Mr. Housewirth is a qualified family law mediator and a member of Collaborative Law Texas, a practice group dedicated to promoting collaborative divorce in Texas.


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