Divorcing Your Spouse While Serving in the Military Abroad

If you are serving in the military and live thousands of miles away from your home in Texas, you probably have questions that differ from other people who are also considering a divorce from their spouse. In deciding to pursue a divorce, you are making a decision that will impact your life and your family’s lives. Seeking as much information as possible and creating a military divorce checklist before filing for divorce is a wise decision on your part.

Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will begin a series of blog posts on this subject. The best way to approach these posts is to pose some common questions that I have encountered from service members with my reply to each.

Where can you get divorced while serving abroad in the military?

You cannot request a divorce from your spouse through your branch of the military’s legal services department. Instead, you must go through court to obtain your divorce. It’s advisable to hire an attorney to assist you in this process. While you can initially seek advice from the legal services provided to you, you cannot use that individual to file for divorce on your behalf.

During the planning stages of divorce, you can brainstorm a list of property owned by you and your spouse and hypothetically divide it up. This process, known as an inventory and appraisement in Texas, will need to be done in your divorce anyway. Doing this ahead of time while you’re not incurring attorney’s fees can be beneficial.

You need to determine where you are domiciled

Regarding where you can file for divorce while not living in the United States, you will need to determine where you and your spouse can claim and prove that you are domiciled. A domicile is your legal home of either you or your spouse. It does not necessarily need to be in the same state.

For example, if you’re registered to vote, pay taxes, own property, and plan to return to Harris County, Texas after completing military service, you likely have domicile in Harris County. A Harris County court would likely assert jurisdiction over your divorce, even if you don’t currently reside there.

Exercise caution when considering a divorce outside the United States to save time and money. While you may receive a document from a foreign entity declaring you and your spouse as divorced, it may lack legal validity. Instead, contemplate hiring an attorney in the part of Texas where you are domiciled and proceed with the divorce accordingly. It will take more time and cost more money, but the result will be a legitimate and legal divorce.

What happens in a divorce?

You may have a general idea of what a divorce is, but you likely have some questions on the subject. This is perfectly natural and not something to be alarmed at. Most people do not research family law in their spare time, especially someone like yourself serving their country abroad. Let’s take this opportunity to increase your knowledge of what you seek to accomplish in a divorce and what will occur when your divorce concludes.

First and foremost, the result of a divorce is that you will no longer be legally married to your spouse. This means that as a single person, you can re-marry (after thirty days of getting this divorce), remain single, file taxes as a single person, and can also return to using your married name if granted that request by your family court judge.

In Texas, getting a divorce means that you will have resolved all issues associated with your marriage. Dividing property, child support, child custody, and conservatorship issues will be resolved in a divorce.

Exercise caution when considering a divorce outside the United States to save time and money. While you may receive a document from a foreign entity declaring you and your spouse as divorced, it may lack legal validity. Instead, contemplate hiring an attorney in the part of Texas where you are domiciled and proceed with the divorce accordingly.

How long can you expect a divorce to take?

In Texas, a divorce requires a minimum of sixty days. From the date you file your divorce petition, you must wait at least sixty days before a judge can grant you a divorce. This waiting period provides both you and your spouse with a “cooling off” period to engage in soul-searching and determine whether you want to proceed with the divorce.

In all likelihood, your divorce will take between three and six months. It can be shorter (unlikely) or longer (entirely possible) depending on the circumstances involved in your case. Difficult circumstances regarding child custody or property issues can cause a divorce to become a much lengthier process.

Conversely, if you and your spouse are willing to collaborate to resolve your issues, and if those issues are minimal, your divorce may conclude relatively quickly.

What about saving money a lawyer if you and your spouse do not have children or property?

One common question that servicemembers ask is whether or not an attorney is even necessary for situations where you and your spouse do not own property or have any children together.

There are resources for folks in your position to learn how to do a divorce independently without necessarily hiring an attorney. Indeed, the issues that cause divorces to become prolonged battles deal with children and property.

However, let me advocate for hiring an attorney even if you don’t have significant property or children issues. You’re acutely aware that you’re not residing in the United States. Picture yourself stepping outside your current location and observing your surroundings. You’re not in the contiguous United States, Alaska, or Hawaii. You’re in a foreign country, and you won’t have the convenience of visiting the courthouse where your divorce is filed to check on paperwork or hearing dates.

Such is the advantage of hiring an attorney to help you with your divorce. Yes, an attorney will cost money. Yes, an attorney will want to do things like “talk to you,” but they can also make sure that “your military divorce doesn’t take two years to complete.” Life happens during your divorce. Other things come up that can take your attention away from your divorce.

Investing money on a Family Law Attorney

Having an attorney is beneficial because their profession revolves around assisting individuals like you in divorce proceedings. By retaining their services, you are compensating them to monitor your case and keep you informed about any developments or upcoming events.

In general, I do not recommend you go about your divorce on your own as a member of the military. Too much goes on in even a “simple” divorce for you to feel confident that you can handle the case on your own. Invest money in a reasonable family law attorney. The benefit to you and your family will be significantly more than your attorney’s fees.

More on getting a divorce while a member of the military in tomorrow’s blog post

Please visit our website tomorrow to learn about navigating divorce while living abroad in the military. If you have any questions about this topic or any other family law matters, feel free to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys are available to discuss your case over the phone, via Skype, or through any preferred means. We would be honored to assist you. These consultations are free of charge and can go a long way towards helping you learn about divorce in Texas.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

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  3. The United States Supreme Court Answers a Question about Military Retirement Benefits
  4. Military Divorces in Texas
  5. Essential Information for Military Divorces in Texas
  6. Military Support Without a Court Order During a Divorce in Texas
  7. How to Divorce a Spouse in the Military
  8. Texas Divorce – Serving Military Personnel or their Spouse Worldwide
  9. Texas Statute Aids Military Personnel and Their Spouses in Filing for Divorce
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  11. How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney’s Fees in a Texas Divorce?
  12. How am I going to Pay for My Texas Divorce?
  13. Should I Hide Money from my Spouse to Get Ready for my Texas Divorce?

Frequently Asked Questions about Military Divorce

What is a military wife entitled to in a divorce?

When it comes to a military divorce, entitlements can vary based on factors like length of marriage, benefits, and more. Consulting legal experts is advised to understand specific entitlements.

How do I prepare for divorce in the military?

Preparing for a military divorce involves gathering documentation, understanding your financial situation, and seeking legal counsel to navigate the unique challenges faced by service members.

What is the 10-year military rule for divorce?

The 10-year rule refers to the requirement that a marriage must have lasted at least 10 years while the military member served for at least 10 years of creditable military service for the ex-spouse to receive direct retirement payments from DFAS.

What is the 20/15 rule for military divorce?

The 20/15/10 rule applies to a former spouse’s eligibility for military benefits after divorce. If the marriage lasted at least 20 years, the service member served at least 15 years of creditable service, and there’s at least a 10-year overlap between the marriage and military service, the former spouse may retain certain benefits.

How do I file for divorce in Texas while in the military?

Filing for divorce in Texas while serving in the military involves following state laws and jurisdiction rules. Consulting a lawyer experienced in military divorce can guide you through the process.

How much of my military retirement is my ex-wife entitled to in Texas?

In Texas, military retirement is considered community property. Depending on factors like length of marriage and specific circumstances, a court may award a portion of the retirement benefits to the ex-spouse.

What is the 10/10 rule for military divorce?

The 10/10 rule pertains to the division of military retirement pay. If the marriage lasted at least 10 years and there was at least 10 years of creditable military service, the ex-spouse may receive a direct payment from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston Texas Military Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s essential to speak with a Houston, Texas, Military Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A military divorce lawyer in Houston, TX, is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Military Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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