Failing to prepare means that you are preparing to fail. We have all heard this phrase repeatedly describe how vital preparation is when you begin any process. The better-prepared person almost always achieves better results in whatever endeavor they are attempting to engage in. Going through a divorce is no different. It would help if you were prepared to work through issues within the case, but you also need to have your chance well thought out in advance of filing for divorce.
All of these thoughts are twice as true for military divorces as they are for civilian divorces. The reason being that Military families have additional issues to be mindful of during their divorce than do civilian families. Not only have military families chosen to make sacrifices with their lives that create different circumstances to be mindful of in a divorce, but they also have specific rules in place regarding issues like retirement benefits, child custody, and conservative ship issues that many civilian families do not have to be as aware of.
In today’s blog post, I would like to share some information on How best to prepare for your military divorce. I believe that military families are very capable of doing the preparation necessary for a successful divorce. After all, if you are in an army family, then you are well acclimated to working together as a unit, planning for future events, and making the best of adverse situations. If you utilize these skills in the context of your divorce, you will be in a good position Do accomplish as much as possible within the case and set your post-divorce life up for success.
Determine what your goals are for this divorce
The point behind each piece of advice that I’m about to provide you with is to be intentional with the decisions that you make regarding your divorce. Rather than jump from subject to subject within your divorce without having a real plan in place, you should prepare ahead of time and consider some reasonable goals for you and your family. Even though many of you reading this blog post are military families, your family’s plans will likely vary to one extent or another from those of another military family. The reason for this is no two divorces or precisely alike, and no two families are exactly alike.
You should sit down in a quiet place and think about what your goals are for the divorce. I do not mean to come up with general purposes that could apply to your family or other military family. I mean to sit down and think about clear, concrete goals for your specific family in your particular circumstances. Consider objectives for both your financial life and your family life. Once you have goals in mind, you should write them down. A written dream is more likely to be acted upon versus the purpose that is simply in your mind floating around in the ether.
Where do you want to be financially in five years? Where do you want to be financially in 10 years? Consider how the length of your marriage impacts the availability of any retirement funds that you or your spouse may have through the military. How are you and your attorney going to have those funds divided? Are you eligible for them? Before you consider these sorts of questions in a specific sense, you need to know what is available to you in the divorce.
It would help if you asked yourself the same question regarding your family life. What sort of visitation structured do you want to share with your Co-parent regarding your children? A challenging part about preparing for a military divorce is that military families tend to move in are more mobile than civilian families. As a result, a standard possession order for your children may not work for your family. This puts more pressure on you and your spouse to work together to create a flexible yet firm parenting plan that allows both of you to share meaningful time with your children. You will not be able to accomplish this goal without planning for it ahead of time.
Select the right attorney to prepare for your divorce
All of the information And advice contained in the first few sections of today’s blog post are practical pieces for you to consider. Still, the reality of the situation is that it will be challenging for you to put these into motion Without the assistance of an experienced attorney. This is true for a few reasons. The first of those reasons impacts military and nonmilitary families alike. This is a simple truth: you and your family are not attorneys and probably have little experience dealing with divorces. Therefore, you would have to learn how to file for divorce and maintain the divorce case while worrying about your career and family. This is a balancing act that many families cannot manage.
As I mentioned a moment ago, this problem impacts many families going through a divorce. It doesn’t matter if you are military or not; if you don’t have experience in a divorce, you don’t know the first thing about getting your case off the ground properly. Another factor to consider is that you may not even be located in Texas right now. The state of Texas allows military families to file for divorce In Texas even if they are not current residents of the state. You need only consider Texas your place of residence and plan on returning when your military duties are done with. Not being able to physically go to the courthouse or even be near your property can make a divorce that much more difficult.
For these reasons, you need to be able to interview and hire an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through your military divorce. Very few people going through a divorce do not need an experienced family law attorney during their case. You would not perform dental work on yourself. You would not perform surgery on yourself. Most of us don’t even work on our vehicles. With all that said, why would you attempt to get a divorce without an experienced professional by your side?
Family law attorneys are equipped to guide you through the process and provide you with advice. Family law attorneys do not make decisions for you in the divorce. Family law attorneys are essentially sitting next to you on a long road trip there, helping you avoid potholes and avoid missing the right turns. Ultimately your divorce is your case and not the attorney. While some attorneys don’t understand this, I can assure you the attorneys in our law office do. Here is the primary question: how do you determine what attorney is right for you in your family?
Interview the right attorney for you and your family
Choosing a family law attorney for your divorce is not as simple as going to the grocery store and picking out your favorite type of salad dressing. While there are many salad dressings for you to choose from, you know which one you like best, and you can instinctively move towards that dressing, pick it off the shelf and place it in your basket. You’ve had a great deal of experience tasting different sauces and are equipped to choose the one you like best. Not much thought needs to go into the process, and you can move on with your life very quickly after that.
The process is different for kicking the right family law attorney for you in your case. You likely have much less experience with hiring an attorney than you do with eating salads. As a result, you need to develop expertise by speaking to attorneys about your case expectations for your case. At that point, when speaking to a family attorney, you should do your best to listen as much as you talk. Allow the attorney to discuss the steps of a divorce and how the attorney can help guide you through those steps. If the attorney you are meeting with cannot clearly explain the actions of a divorce or how your case may end up proceeding, you ought to move on to another lawyer.
If you live overseas or live in another state, you should consider alternative means to meeting with an attorney. If you value face-to-face contact, then at this stage, you should be able to fly to Texas to meet with lawyers in person. That may draw attention to the fact that you are planning to file for divorce, so proceed with caution. If flying to Houston to meet with attorneys does not suit you, then you can always arrange for video or telephone consultations with a family law attorney here in Southeast Texas. The coronavirus pandemic has made attorneys more technologically savvy and more willing to offer alternative means to meet with and consult with a lawyer.
Military specific issues to prepare for in your divorce
military spouses must have been married for at least ten years for the military member’s retirement benefits to becoming eligible for division in the divorce. So, if your marriage has been relatively short, it is unlikely that you will access your spouse’s military benefits. In addition to retirement benefits, health insurance and other assistance may be available due to your spouse’s service in the military. Once your divorce is up and running, you should rely upon your attorney’s advice and any person Who becomes available to you through the military to help provide information in this regard. The different military branches typically have someone available to provide information directly to you about services provided by that particular military branch.
Military families should also be aware that travel costs are likely to factor in your divorce compared to civilian divorces. For an atypical Houston area family, Travel costs are reasonable, not at the top of the list of considerations in a divorce. Even if a father has to drive across the city to pick up their kids, the costs of doing so are relatively small. Compare this to a military family whose military member father lives in another state and has to travel frequently to see their children, and the cost adds up quite quickly.
With that said, you and your spouse should work together to figure out how you are going to divide up the costs of travel associated with fine children back and forth and between different places, as well as whether or not the children need to have an adult present with them when traveling. These are the sort of logistical considerations that families should consider early on in the divorce process rather than waiting to have them settled later when other issues may become more pressing.
Questions about military divorces? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office, over the phone, in via video. We value the opportunity and privilege to serve members of our military and their families and look forward to discussing with you the services we can provide in a divorce or child custody case.