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Texas Lawyer - Residence and Jurisdiction

Law Office of Douglas C. Smith - El Paso Military Divorce Law Firm

Experienced military family lawyers understand that one of the most difficult aspects of divorce for uniformed service personnel is determining jurisdiction. In other words, do the parties to the marriage - either party, both, or neither - have enough of a connection to the place where the petition is filed for the court to have the legal authority to dissolve the marriage and rule on legal issues? Contact my office in El Paso for experienced and dependable advice about the residence and jurisdictional considerations that can complicate military family law.

In Texas, the general rule for divorce is that either spouse must have been a domiciliary of the state for at least six months (180 days) prior to the date of the divorce petition, and a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for the preceding 90 days. Then the question is, what about the other spouse? If the husband is stationed at Fort Bliss for seven months between intelligence school in Monterey and a posting to Qatar, and his wife who wants to divorce him has never even been to Texas, can she file a divorce petition in El Paso County? What if he wants to initiate the divorce?

Military residence is determined rather differently from civilian domicile - which for the moment can be taken as pretty much the same thing. The crucial question for service personnel is the "home of record" - in some cases, it's the state from which the soldier enlisted, in others it's the state where a career servicemember intends to settle after retirement. Or it can be somewhere else entirely.

In military divorce cases, it's also possible that the family court in a given state can grant a decree of dissolution of marriage, but cannot determine questions of child custody or child support because the children had never lived there. Similarly, the court might be able to divide some of the marital property between the parties, but lack jurisdiction over military retirement benefits.

My long experience with questions of military family law and jurisdictional issues can represent a significant advantage to you, whether you're seeking to invoke a court's jurisdiction or you're resisting it. I've taught courses on the complications of domicile, residence, and home of record as they affect transient military personnel and their families, and I can use my familiarity with these issues both to deny jurisdiction and to make it stick.

If you're involved in a family law matter while serving in the armed forces, contact me in El Paso for a free consultation about your case.

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Law Office of Douglas C. Smith
10514 Montwood Drive
El Paso, TX 79935

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