Monday, May 12, 2014

Can you file for a Texas Divorce if you are not a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Legal Resident?

If you have been living in Texas regularly and need to file for divorce, you may be hesitant if you are not a U.S. legal resident or citizen.  There are numerous people who live in the US via a work visa, business visa, other types of visa who want to proceed with a divorce but they fear that the United States cannot grant them a divorce.   

You are still allowed to file as long as you meet the State requirements of residency. In order to file you must be living in the county for a continuous 90 days and in the state for 6 months continuously, this is the required legal residency.   Your immigration status is not reviewed or examined in a Texas Family court nor are the courts connected with the Department of Homeland Security. 

Some people are hesitant to file in some situations such as;
1.     someone who is here on a student visa or work visa;
2.     someone who was here on a visa, but the visa expired;
3.     someone who is living here but uncertain of their immigration status;
4.     someone who came here illegally.

If this is you, you should know that you are still allowed to file for divorce.  The fact of filing for divorce will not usually get you in any trouble with immigration authorities.   (But, be aware that if there is a warrant out for your arrest that could be a problem for you. This is true for anyone who files any type of case in a court of law - whether a U.S. citizen, or not). 

A Texas family court will finalize your US community property and debt, however, unless you have an agreement with your spouse this will not determine the division of your property that is located outside of this country. Further, it is important that you register your divorce in your country of Legal Residence in order to avoid any type of legal consequences in your country! (check with an attorney in your own country to see what must be done there -- these laws vary from country to country!)

In cases dealing with children, the court will not prevent you from having the Standard Possession rights, however if there is fear that you may leave the United States and not return then the court may put restrictions to your access and possession.

You can file if you are here in Texas and your spouse is not. He or she may even be back in your home country, but you can still file for divorce as long as you have been here the required amount of time.   However, keep in mind they will still be required to be "legally served" with the lawsuit and that can be tricky.  (This depends on the country involved, what the laws are there, and if the Country abides by the Hague Convention.)

In the more complex cases in which children will be traveling from one country to another, and property is being divided both in the U.S. and in the foreign country, you will not only need your Texas Family Attorney, but you may also need a family attorney from your country.  This will help you tie up all loose ends and help you understand how your Texas divorce, child custody and property division is accepted in your own country. 

Have a consult with a Texas divorce attorney to have your questions answered if you have been wanting to file for divorce but have been afraid to do so. Choose an attorney who is comfortable and experienced with multi-country situations. 

Kalish Law Texas - Family Law lawyers since 1983!

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 


  1. Thanks for posting this. In my experience many people are so nervous over their situation that they don't even schedule a consultation with a lawyer. Getting in to see a lawyer ASAP is really important for people to understand exactly what their rights are. Hopefully people who are concerned realize to pick up the phone and call.

  2. Thank you, Luke. Yes you are correct. In this (and other areas of law) it is a shame when people feel there is no hope because they don't have the proper information.


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