At the onset of any divorce proceeding, divorce attorneys must ensure that Texas is the proper state where the divorce should be filed. Texas Family Code §6.01 makes clear that before Texas Courts will exercise jurisdiction over a divorce proceeding, the petitioner or respondent must have been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding 6 months and a resident of the County where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days.
Evaluating Jurisdiction - U.S. Or Mexico
Because we practice divorce law on the Texas-Mexico border, jurisdictional issues can frequently become an international affair for our clients. Many families on the border have homes in both Mexico and the United States, splitting time between both countries.
As a divorce lawyer, the first question I typically ask when evaluating jurisdiction for a cross-border family is “which government issued your drivers license Texas or Mexico?” If you have a home in Mexico, a Mexican drivers license, and spend much of your time in Mexico, then chances are you are a domiciliary of Mexico and not Texas. Just having an address in Texas does not mean Texas is your domicile.
These scenarios are particularly common in the Brownsville area because of our proximity to South Padre Island, where many Mexican citizens own vacation homes.
The key inquiry when establishing domicile is where does the person intend to have their primary residence. If the answer is somewhere other than Texas, then I advise that the parties to seek a divorce in a more appropriate jurisdiction.
A Little Bit About Mexico And Divorce
Mexican Law and Texas Law appear to be very different when it comes to divorce, property division, and child support. Divorce attorneys consider all of these factors when deciding where to file your divorce. This is also true when it comes to jurisdictional considerations.
I do not claim to know enough about Mexican jurisdictional laws to give competent legal advice about how to proceed in Mexico. I can tell you that just because you were married in Texas 20 years ago and then moved to Mexico and made Mexico your domicile, that fact does not mean Texas retains jurisdiction over your divorce.
A Texas marriage license does not give Texas perpetual jurisdiction to handle a divorce associated with that license. If you leave Texas and abandon your Texas domicile, you are also preventing Texas from exercising jurisdiction over your divorce.
Res Judicatia And The Mexican Divorce Proceeding That Trumps Texas
If you are domiciled in Texas and your spouse obtains a final divorce against you in Mexico, you are likely barred from seeking a divorce in Texas especially if the Mexican divorce decree previously resolved all issues between you and your spouse.
Texas Courts routinely honor foreign divorce judgments if it can be shown that both parties were present and/or had notice of the foreign proceeding. In my work as a divorce attorney, I have seen simultaneous proceedings take place in two countries at the same time where the first Court to finalize gets preference over the other Court. Then entry of a final judgment in Mexico can have significant impact on a Texas Court’s ability to grant a final divorce.
Garza & Elizondo, LLP
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526