Should You Divorce in Texas or Arizona?
What happens if you have a family that’s divided between states such as Texas and Arizona, and you are going to be getting a divorce? This type of situation can happen far more often than you might think, but it’s not always clear where to file for divorce or which state offer’s a divorce jurisdiction that’s best for you. Different states, of course, have different requirements for divorce. These differences could be more impactful on the outcome than you might imagine.
For example, if a family has been living in Arizona and one of the spouses receives a job offer in Texas, they might not want to move the entire family. That spouse might decide to work in Texas while keeping their family in Arizona. They will commute back home on weekends or once or twice a month. The family would essentially have two different locations where divorce could potentially be filed. Which is better? What are the differences?
Where You File Matters
In Arizona, there is jurisdictional divorce as long as someone has lived there for 90 days. However, even if they’ve been in Arizona for any length of time, they can file for legal separation. Once they have then been in the state for 90 days, they can proceed with a divorce. This would then give Arizona jurisdiction over the divorce.
In Texas, the residency requirement is six months. The state of Texas does not have legal separation. Texas is one of only a handful of states that do not recognize legal documentation of separation. The other states include Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. This means that the resident in Arizona would be able to start the actions of a divorce sooner than someone who is a resident in Texas.
Additionally, the state that can file first will have jurisdiction over any children in the case. According to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), only a single state can have jurisdiction over the children in a divorce. This was drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1997. Even though both states could have jurisdiction over the divorce, only one state can have jurisdiction over the children.
This essentially means that there could be two cases going on at the same time. One for the children and custody, and one for the divorce. There is a lot to think about when it comes to getting a divorce, and it’s important to understand what the rules are in the different states.
Texas Has Some Big Differences When It Comes to Divorce
Both Texas and Arizona are community property states. Community property refers to any income and real or personal property that’s acquired by either of the spouses during the marriage. These properties and assets are considered to belong to both of the partners in the marriage. It also means that both are responsible for the collected debts.
In Arizona, all of the property is to be divided equitably, so each partner will get an equal share. However, there can be some exceptions to this rule depending on the circumstances. In Texas, the property does not have to be divided equitably. Many things could affect how the property is divided, such as domestic abuse or adultery, for example. In Texas, the attorneys can subpoena records, such as phone records, DMs, etc. to prove that a spouse was cheating because it could be relevant in the case and affect the outcome of how much their client can receive when the property and assets are split.
In rare cases, the divorce could even go before a jury to decide. Less than 1% of divorce cases in Texas are heard by a jury because it can drag the case out for a long time. It also tends to be far more expensive.
One of the other big differences for choosing divorce jurisdiction is that Texas does not have alimony. Instead, there is a form of spousal maintenance, which is limited, and it is rarely rewarded. This is very important to think about when it comes to filing for divorce. In the scenario above, the spouse that lives in Arizona will not receive any spousal maintenance if the divorce takes place in Texas. The view in Texas is that once you are divorced, spouses should no longer have a claim to their ex-spouses income, which is why there is no alimony.
In Texas, child support is capped. Regardless of how much money a person might make, if they have a single child and they are paying child support, the maximum they will pay is about $1,800 a month. In Arizona, the amount of child support will typically be based on what the parents were spending on the child on a monthly basis. This could be much higher than the $1,800 a month when factoring in things such as private school.
As you can see, there are quite a few differences between Texas and Arizona. You will find that there are differences between many different states, which is what makes it difficult for so many to determine where they should file for divorce. All of those differences could have serious consequences in the outcome of a divorce and how much someone can receive either through support or through division of property.
Get in Touch with a Quality Family Attorney
Divorce can be a messy subject even in the best of times. It can also be confusing, and you may not always know the best way to proceed. Even if you have what you feel is a simple case without any children involved, it’s best to speak with a family attorney. Work with a lawyer that can take your case and work on your behalf. They can help to illuminate the process from start to finish for you, and they will have your best interests in mind. Additionally, they can look at the laws in the state where your spouse is residing and determine whether the divorce should be conducted there or in your own state.