Domicile is an important legal concept because it establishes where a person has certain legal rights and obligations. A Texas divorce suit requires a party to have been domiciled in Texas for the preceding six-month period and a resident of the county where the suit was filed for the preceding 90-day period. TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 6.301. Domicile is the place a person intends to establish a permanent home. To establish domicile, the person must also act in execution of the intent. For most people, domicile is fairly easy to identify, but it can be more complicated for members of the military.
The wife of a member of the Air Force recently challenged jurisdiction of a Texas divorce proceeding. According to the appeals court’s opinion, the couple married in Texas in 2003. The husband identified Kendall County, Texas as his home of record. Both parties testified that they and the children had lived in North Carolina continuously for the previous six years. The wife filed for legal separation in North Carolina, and the husband subsequently filed for divorce in Kendall County, Texas.
The wife argued Texas did not have subject-matter jurisdiction. The trial court dismissed the petition for divorce, finding Texas was not the children’s home state and they did not have significant contacts with Texas. The trial court also found the father was not a resident of Kendall County, Texas. The trial court ultimately concluded North Carolina was the more convenient forum and more suitable for hearing both the custody and the divorce. The husband appealed. The appeals court identified two separate issues in this case: the divorce and the custody.