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Military families and divorce in Texas

Families in today's world are not the nuclear family of generations past. Unmarried couples cohabitate with as much frequency as married couples, and children born to unwed parents are commonplace as a result. Divorce occurs with greater frequency now than in years past. More children are being raised by a single parent (often a single mother) than people of our parent's generation would have ever guessed.

I mention these trends not in a judgmental way but to point out that stability and family life are not the norms in today's world. We see parents of children and adults in their lives go in and out of the home due to changing relationships and shifting family dynamics. It's a microwave culture that we live in. If we can't have something now, we don't want it at all. We rush into relationships and rush out just as quickly.

Military families, specifically enlisted soldiers, are particularly susceptible to the changes that occur in families. If we look at the statistics of who makes up the lion's share of enlisted men and women in the military, we see that it is by and large younger individuals with high school educations. The numbers bear out that people in those groups tend to have children while not married more frequently than older, college-educated persons. What's more, this leads to the sort of relationship instability that we discussed at the outset of this blog post.

All of this is on top of the fact that active-duty servicemembers have to battle through strain and strife in their family lives due to their being separated from their families during deployment. Members of our armed services do not have the time to attend intense, family-focused counseling sessions like those of us living here in the United States would be able to do. The result is that the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our country have to make a sacrifice in an area that they may not have bargained for.

Challenges facing military families

Suppose you are a single parent who is enlisted in the military. In that case, you know that you face challenges and obstacles to having a stable family life that civilian families do not have to face. Suppose you can get assistance from your military branch to seek court orders on child support and visitation with your child. In that case, you have probably run into issues with not paying child support or not seeing your child as frequently as your visitation order allows you to.

The fact is that you move much more frequently than most people. Your stress levels are higher because you work in difficult and dangerous conditions and can have problems adjusting to post-military life as a veteran when your service time ends. It is a struggle for you and for your child's other parent to ensure that your child receives the time and attention they deserve.

On a Statewide level, the Texas Attorney General's Office is charged with receiving and facilitating child support payments on behalf of you and your child's other parent. However, their office has a huge responsibility to ensure that cases are dealt with appropriately, considering that military child support cases are often more complex than civilian child support cases. The reason being is that you and the other parent may be from different states, which means prior child support orders may need to be incorporated into a Texas child support order.

The complex nature of these child support and child custody cases means that the State, your child's other parent, and you need to spend a great deal of time and money on your case. Couple this with being abroad on essential job duties, and it is a recipe for even greater stress for you as a servicemember. The bottom line is that as a service member, your situation deserves special attention if for no other reason than your children are the ones caught in the middle of these competing forces.

The State of Texas' response to the growing need to emphasize the importance of military families

The State of Texas has developed a program intended to focus on the family law situations of military families that live in our State. That program is known as HEROES (an acronym for Help Establishing Responsive Orders Ensuring Support for Children in the Military Families Project).

HEROES supports your family and families like yours going through complex child custody-related situations. The program also trains attorneys and military personnel that act as paralegals to military families. If you are an enlisted military member, you can ask those in command about legal clinics available to you for question-asking.

HEROES has provided benefits across the board to those involved in helping military families like yours. Our State's child support programs offered through the Office of the Attorney General have seen a reduced strain on the child support offices that support the different regions of our State.

Judges across Texas benefit because cases before the courts are better organized and prepared to achieve more desirable and efficient resolutions. This efficient resolution is that you, as a military member and parent, most likely want as well. An opportunity for a fair result allows you to return to your duties as a parent and servicemember.

The goal of all parties involved: Assisting military families like yours

It is the goal of every person that is involved in representing service members like yourself to develop a strategy and plan of attack to solve your problems, ensure stability for your child and allow you to focus on your job duties.

We have already discussed how your situation is likely more complex than most people when it comes to child support. However, the benefit of being a military member is that you have a level of personal responsibility that surpasses many of your peers. Secondly, your ability to pay child support is more significant than many because your hard work leads to a steady paycheck from which child support payments can be paid.

It is not easy, but programs like HEROES can assist the State of Texas in administering a more efficient system to have child support payments be directed to the places they need to go. When you consider all of the different people involved in ensuring that your child support payment ends up with your child's custodial parent, it is incredible the coordination required. While no system is perfect, military families like yours can take pride in knowing that the State of Texas takes a particular interest in ensuring that you and your children are cared for as best as possible.

Are you interested in learning more about military families' challenges and opportunities? Read more on these subjects this week.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, takes special pride in representing military members. With that pride in mind, we will take the next few days to discuss what it means to be a servicemember going through a child custody or child support case in Texas. If you are a service member, I highly suggest you check in with us over the next week.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about a family law matter that is affecting you, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations with one of our licensed family law attorneys six days a week.

It would be an honor of ours to answer your questions and discuss how we can assist you and your family. Our attorneys represent clients across southeast Texas and are proud of the results we have helped earn for our clients.

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