In February, Josh Hamilton filed for divorce from his wife of 11 years, Katie. The couple has 4 young children together. TMZ reports that Katie was completely blindsided by Josh’s decision to file for divorce stating, “It came out of nowhere. There was no big fight or blow up. Nothing sparked it.” In fact, just one month before Josh filed, the couple was reportedly as in love as ever with Katie posting a picture on Instagram of the two on a romantic date.
The interesting angle of this case is that Josh filed for divorce in Tarrant County, Texas–not the couples marital residence of Newport, California. Considering the differences between divorce law in California and in Texas, Katie very well may want to try and get the Texas divorce dismissed in favor of filing in California.
Is Texas the appropriate Jurisdiction?
Texas and California have nearly identical statutory residency requirements related to the filing of a divorce action. In California, the filing party must have been a resident of the state for the preceding 6 months and a resident of the county for the preceding 3 months leading up to the filing of the Petition of Dissolution. The key difference in Texas is the use of the word “domiciliary” in place of “resident.”
A “domiciliary” is one that “resides and intends to remain” in a certain jurisdiction. A “resident” is one who dwells for a period of time. A resident becomes a domiciliary if it is determined that he/she intends to remain in that location. This is a very important distinction. If the Hamilton’s are domiciled in California then Josh Hamilton’s divorce Petition in Texas should be dismissed.
While it may be true that Hamilton spent 5 years in Texas with the Rangers, on December 13, 2012 Hamilton signed on with the Anaheim Angels to a 5 year, $125 million contract; his family owns a $16.5 million home in Newport, California; and his wife and children live in California. Regardless whether or not Josh had been in Texas for 6 months prior to filing for divorce, he is still under contract with a California baseball team for another 2 years and a strong argument could be made that his intended domicile is California. But why would it matter?
Katie Hamilton’s right to spousal support would be limited Texas
The laws regarding spousal support or “alimony” are completely different in Texas than in California. California spousal support laws strongly favor the spouse receiving support as opposed to the spousal support laws in Texas. Texas law regarding alimony is much more restrictive.
In Texas there is a presumption against an order for spousal support. It is the immediate burden of the spouse requesting spousal support to overcome the presumption by proving that he or she needs spousal support in order to provide for “basic needs.” Further, the amount os spousal support cannot exceed $5,000 per month. In stark contrast, California law requires that an order for spousal support be made in order that the supported spouse may live as close to the marital standard of living subject to the other spouse’s ability to pay among other factors. There is no statutory limit and the policy favors a spousal support order as opposed to creating a presumption against.
The biggest difference here is that in California, the amount of spousal support is based on the martial standard of living, while in Texas, the amount is determined by assessing what is needed in order to satisfy basic needs.” Says John Griffith, a divorce lawyer in Carlsbad, California.
Of course there is much to this case that has not yet been made public and these issues have most likely been thoughtfully considered by divorce lawyers on both sides of the case. We’ll see what the future holds and as with most high asset divorces, this will most likely end up in a well structured martial settlement agreement.