Getting divorced from your spouse, a military member, is surprisingly the same as getting a divorce from a civilian. We tend to think that there are additional requirements or steps involved in proceeding with the divorce if you or your spouse is in the military. This may be due in part because military members oftentimes live overseas or are otherwise deployed. In that case, the logistics of getting your divorce may be different than from divorcing a spouse who lives in the same house as you. However, the legal proceedings and steps are the same no matter what military designation you or your spouse may have.
The key thing for you to understand, as for any person involved in divorce proceedings, is to be able to get your divorce as efficiently as possible without having to spend any additional time or money that could otherwise be devoted to your children, yourself, or another pursuit that you find more rewarding than the Texas family courts. Family law attorneys, despite popular belief, do not want to delay your case for an indeterminate length of time to rack up fees for themselves. However, even some simple divorces can take longer than you anticipate due to circumstances beyond your control. That means it is essential for you and your attorney to have a plan in place and two be able to act on that plan.
How does mediation figure into a military Divorce?
Texas family law courts Are incredibly dependent upon mediation to resolve disputes between persons who are going through a divorce. That does not mean that your case could not see the inside of a courtroom, but it does mean that the likeliest outcome for your case would be to be resolved in mediation. Mediation is a process whereby you and your attorney, your spouse, their attorney, and an experienced family law mediator work to settle outstanding issues in your divorce case. Mediation is a tried and true method for resolving matters ranging from custody to property division in a divorce. The only question is whether or not you in your spouse will be able to work through the issues in this manner.
Your court will likely require mediation before attending a temporary orders hearing. If you are interested, once your case is assigned to a specific court, you can log onto the Internet to access the website for your particular court period; from there, you can see what requirements are in place for various subjects, including mediation. It may be that you have to attend mediation even more than once, depending upon the circumstances of your case. I have seen judges order mediation two or even three times to make sure that no settlement can be reached before agreeing to hear a trial or hearing on that matter
one of the main benefits too attending mediation rather than going to court for any matter related to your divorce is that it provides you and your spouse and opportunity to negotiate through the issues and determine your own outcome for the case rather than relying upon a family court judge who does not know you or your spouse all that well. Even after a two or three-day trial, your family court judge will only know a sliver of the experience of your life and that of your Co-parent and spouse. It is wise to work through the issues with your spouse because you all know what is best for your family better than a family court judge ever will.
This is especially true when it comes to child custody. Not only is your family unique, but what is important for your family in terms of custody, logistics with drop off and pick up, and the emotions and temperament of your child are unique as well. Relying upon a family court judge to make decisions for your child is necessary for some families but is not necessarily the case for yours. It would help if you worked with your spouse to negotiate any issues you can before your case ever has to go to court. This can save you time and money and help you all reach a better outcome for everyone involved, including your children.
Mediation allows you and your spouse to be in a much healthier and less pressure-filled environment than a courtroom. The mediation session will allow the mediator to go back and forth between the room where you and your attorney are in the room where your spouse and their attorney are and ordered to move you all closer to the center enter fine-tune any problems or basic agreements that you might have. Simple changes in language between what you are saying to your spouse and what a mediator says can make all the difference in the world. A mediator is not emotionally invested in your case and, as a result, can provide more objective information and perspective than you and your spouse can. The more objective information and facts applicable to a case, the better off everyone will be.
Mediation comes at a cost, but it is far less expensive to attend mediation than to go to a trial. A mediator cannot and will not guarantee you success when it comes to finishing off your case. Although most mediation sessions do result in a settlement, at least on most of the issues of the case, there is no guarantee for this. However, it is my personal experience that upwards of 90% of mediations result in settlements for the parties and can help you avoid problems with the uncertain nature of a divorce trial. Also, do not underestimate the benefit to your children of going through a mediation session then rather going through a trial. Giving your children some certainty and perspective on the case rather than having to wait for an emotionally charged trial to do so can be extremely beneficial to them, as well.
Another factor to consider is that, from my experience, people are more likely to follow that agreement that they created with their spouse and mediation versus an outcome created by a judge after a trial. Do you feel more invested in the case when you have created the results rather than a judge? Since you determined the outcome, it is more likely that you will have created a set of circumstances that work for your family versus what a family court judge created through their best guess is for your family. With that said, if you can have a court order created that not only functions better but that you are more willing to follow on a long-term basis, you will have achieved a great outcome for yourself and your family.
What is joint custody for military families?
Many parents believe that joint custody refers to a situation where you and your spouse end up sharing custody of your children on a perfectly even, split basis once the divorce is done. Many clients that I have worked with refer to this as 5050 custody. While split custody is certainly a thing that can be negotiated in a Texas divorce case, joint custody there’s a much more nuanced subject than merely splitting time down the middle in a completely even fashion.
From my experience, there is typically one parent in a divorce who is concerned with losing a great deal of time with their children or even losing custody overall. Most of the time, the parent concerned with losing custody of the kids is the father. For whatever reason, fathers tend to be concerned that the amount of time they will spend with their children after divorce is over much more regularly than mothers. Mothers typically are concerned with issues like child support, the safety of their child, and the need to argue back and forth with their Co-parent after divorce is over.
I think that fathers are more concerned with this subject than mothers because more fathers versus mothers tend to work outside the home and spend less time with their children. Fathers also hear from family members and friends horror stories about incidents involving fathers losing complete custody of their children and not being able to spend time with their kids after a divorce is over with period while this would be an extreme situation and most likely is an exaggeration, the reality is that fathers are more concerned on a general basis than mothers about losing time with their children after a divorce. If you are a father who is also in the military, this may hit home for you especially hard.
One of the interesting things about custody circumstances for a family in the military going through a divorce is that the nature of a divorce often lends itself to a sporting competition. It is only natural to start thinking about winners and losers in terms of custody, not only in the negotiation process but also through a trial. The stakes are certainly high for both parents as you will be concerned with retaining as much time with your children after a divorce as possible. It can be an extreme change for some parents to go from seeing your child whenever they want only to see your child based on a preset schedule.
Additionally, parents in your position can use the language of a divorce to demean or harm their Co-parent. For instance, if you are a non-custodial parent and have visitation rights, it can be made to feel like you can only spend time with your child out of the goodness of your Co parent’s heart. Visitation time feels uncertain and Mike, the child you are spending time with, is not truly your own. It is almost as if the child is on borrowed time from their true parent, who has primary possession.
What exactly is joint physical custody?
The best explanation that I can give regarding joint custody is that it covers circumstances where your child lives with you for a period of time and then lives with their other parent for a separate period of time. The normal breakdown in custody occurs with your Co-parent, and you are abiding by this schedule based on your court orders. Most of the time, you or your Co-parent will be designated as the parent who is the primary conservator of your children. This means that the primary conservative will house the child during the school year and received child support. Obviously, this is a major issue for her parents, given the importance of financial support in these scenarios; being named the primary Conservatory of your children is an important part of a divorce case.
For many parents, this is the most important designation in the entire divorce process. Whether you are a mother or father, you need to be prepared if you plan on asking for primary conservatorship, especially if you believe that your Co-parent will contest that designation for you or attempt to be named primary conservator or him or herself. Perhaps more than any other subject, disagreements on which parent should be named as a primary conservator can delay the end of divorce more so than any other subject that I am familiar with within the context of a family law case.
What are some child custody circumstances that military families need to be aware of?
Obviously, military service comes with a regular schedule for parents due to their work and military service commitments. That likely means that your child would be an irregular schedule when it comes to alternating custody between parents. You may have friends who have every other weekend at type custody where the children in that family go between the different parents every other weekend. Obviously, if you are on deployment or are otherwise serving our country in the military, this type of setup may not work well for you. Even if you live on the base near your children, this type of arrangement may not work.
Another consideration that you need to give when negotiating a divorce when it comes to child custody is the possible need for two for you to be moving on a somewhat frequent basis. The military can move you somewhat unexpectedly; although it does it, it’s best not to do so. Because of the unexpected nature of moves and other issues related to uncertainty on where you live, you may need to consider this factor when negotiating for custody. For example, if you know that you are in a period of military service where you will be moving regularly, then you may not be in a position right now to attempt to negotiate for primary custody of your children. Judges look for consistency and stability in the life of the primary conservator, and that may not be a factor that you can implement into your case right now.
On the other hand, if you are in a period where your military service does not expect to cause you do move frequently, then you may be able to position yourself much like a civilian would in terms of living off base and being able to throw your hat into the ring as far as asking for primary custody of your kids. Making sure that you live close to your Co-parent and even in a preferable school district or area close to your child’s extracurricular activities can be an advantage that you are looking for as a military parent as far as the negotiation process is concerned.
At the very least, you need to be prepared to accommodate your child while they are at your home. The same type of clothes, food, toys, and activities at their primary residence needs to be in your home as well. This does not mean that you have to break the bank to have things at your home for your child, but the basics of life will need to be purchased and provided for your child.
This does not mean you have to spend as much money as possible on your child at the risk of losing custody. However, you will need to begin to learn how to raise a child on your own without your spouse during the pendency of your divorce. If nothing else, the divorce will offer you a crash course into raising your child as a single person after spending many years in a marriage.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? 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 consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.