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 times a single mother) than people of our parents’ generation would have ever guessed.
I mention these trends not in a judgmental way, but in order to point out that stability and consistency in family life is not the norm in today’s world. We see parents of children and the adults that are in their lives go in an 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 those that are 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 find themselves having children while not married more frequently than older, college educated persons. What’s more, this leads to the sort of relationship instability that we were discussing 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 be able 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 are having to make a sacrifice in an area that they may not have bargained for.
Challenges facing military families
If you are a single parent who is enlisted in the military then you know that you face challenges and obstacles to having a stable family life that civilian families do not have to face. If you are able to get assistance from your branch of the military to seek court orders on child support and visitation with your child it is probable that you have run into issues with not being able to pay child support or not being able to see 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 by virtue of the fact that you work in conditions that are difficult and dangerous 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 he or she deserves.
On a Statewide level, the Texas Attorney General’s Office is charged with the responsibility of 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 times 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 important job duties and it is a recipe for even greater stress for you as a servicemember. The bottom line is that as a servicemember 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 that is 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 provides support for your family and families like yours that are going through difficult child custody related situations. The program also trains attorneys and military personnel that act as paralegals to military families. If you are an enlisted member of the military you can ask those in command about legal clinics that are 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 that are 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 that go before the courts are better organized and prepared in order 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 that allows you to return to your duties as a parent and servicemember.
The goal of all parties involved: Assisting military families like yours
At the end of the day, it is the goal of every person that is involved in representing servicemembers 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.
When it comes to child support we have already discussed how your situation is likely more complex than most people. However, the benefit of being a member of the military is that you have a level of personal responsibility that surpasses many of your peers. Secondly, your ability to pay child support is greater than many because your hard work leads to a steady paycheck from which child support payments can be paid from.
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 that are involved in ensuring that your child support payment ends up with your child’s custodial parent it is amazing the coordination that is required. While no system is perfect, military families like yours can take pride in knowing that the State of Texas takes a special interest in ensuring that you and your children are taken care of as best as possible.
Interested in learning more about the challenges and opportunities facing military families? Read more on these subjects this week
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC takes special pride in representing members of the military. With that pride in mind, we are going to take the next few days to discuss what it means to be a servicemember going through child custody or child support case in Texas. If you are a servicemember I highly suggest you check in with us over the next week or so.
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 to discuss how we can assist you and your family. Our attorneys represent clients across southeast Texas and are proud of the results that we have helped earn for our clients.