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Essential Information for Military Divorces in Texas

To successfully conclude a divorce in Texas, couples must adhere to specific procedures for the Court to approve it. While military divorces share similarities with civilian divorces, families with an active-duty military spouse must navigate additional considerations. These may include addressing issues related to deployment, military benefits, and jurisdictional matters. All of which can significantly impact the divorce process. Understanding the nuances of military divorce proceedings and ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations is essential for achieving a fair and satisfactory resolution for all parties involved. With proper guidance and preparation, couples can effectively navigate the complexities of military divorce papers and successfully transition to the next chapter of their lives.

The Houston divorce lawyers with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would like to take this opportunity to thank our military men and women for their service to our country, and to also provide some information on this process.

Filing Requirements

To file for divorce in Texas, the general rule is that at least one party must:

  1. be a resident of the State of Texas for at least six months prior to filing for divorce and
  2. must also be a resident of the county in which they’ve filed for at least ninety days.

When a couple lives away from Texas though, this can complicate things. Active duty military members may have little time to establish residency in the state where they are stationed due to sudden deployment.

Texas Retains Jurisdiction of its Service Members

The key factor is where the filing party believes their permanent home is. If they consider it to be in Texas and intend to return after their deployment, they can file for divorce in Texas. The same residency factors still apply in this case.

Service of Divorce Papers

Even if the recipient is an active duty member of the military, divorce papers still require personal service. However, the recipient can opt to sign a waiver of service form, acknowledging their right to personal service but choosing to waive it.

A person may be willing to sign such a form if they believe that they will enter into a settlement with their spouse and as a result they do not need to assert any cause of action or defenses against the divorce suit filed with their spouse.

Service Members Civil Relief Act

The Service Members Civil Relief Act also shields active duty members of the military from facing default for failing to respond to a divorce petition. The way this works is that:

  1. divorce proceedings are basically postponed for as long as they are considered active duty members of the military and
  2. up to sixty days after that.

Dividing Property

In terms of dividing up the marital estate of the parties, the same rules that apply to civilians applies to members of the military, except for certain federal laws that apply to military retirement accounts.

A general rule of thumb is that a divorcing couple must have been married for at least ten years while the military member was on active duty in order for a dependent spouse to receive any percentage disbursement from the military retirement account.

Again, federal law has specific guidelines for the division and disbursement of the military retirement fund. An experienced attorney in handling military divorces, such as those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, can best manage and structure this portion of a divorce to ensure that any settlement as to military retirement funds is both satisfactory to their client and to the military itself.

Child Support

Child Support is capped for members of the military at 60% of a soldier or sailor’s pay and allowances.

Where will the Children Live?

The custodial or non-custodial parent may frequently ponder the consequences if they are deployed and cannot utilize the scheduled visitation time granted to them in a divorce.

If their children are not residing with them on deployment and are instead in Texas, the service member may ask that the court name a temporary custodial parent until the service member returns home.

By the same token, if the parent with visitation rights finds him or herself in a similar situation where their military commitments interfere with their visitation schedule they too can name a temporary party to use their visitation time until their time of service ends.

The court will assess the particular situation of the parties and assign temporary custodial rights accordingly. In many situations, one parent is able to stay behind in the United States while the other parent is abroad. Most courts will show preference to giving the active duty parent’s time to the other parent unless it is shown that it is not in the children’s best interests to do so.

Navigating divorce with competent representation

Serving in the military is a badge of honor for Americans, but when marital issues arise, divorce becomes a pressing concern. Members of the armed forces navigating divorce must prioritize legal representation to safeguard their rights, assets, and time with their children.

At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, we hold profound respect for military personnel and recognize the unique challenges they encounter. Our attorneys possess the expertise to provide adept guidance in military divorce matters. We urge any service member seeking clarity on military divorce papers to connect with us for a complimentary consultation, where they can gain invaluable insights into their legal standing and options.

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