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Divorcing your spouse while serving in the military abroad

If you are serving in the military and are living 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. Wanting to have as much as information as possible before you take the step of filing for divorce is a smart move 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. I think 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 actually get divorced while serving abroad in the military?

You cannot simply go through your branch of the military’s legal services department to request a divorce from your spouse. You must go through a court to get your divorce and it is recommended that you hire an attorney to assist you in this regard. You can initially seek advice from whatever legal services are provided to you but you cannot use that person to actually get a divorce for you.

What you can do in the planning stages of divorce is to brainstorm a list of property owned by you and your spouse and to hypothetically divide it up. This will need to be done in your divorce (known as an inventory and appraisement in Texas) anyways so it will not hurt to do so ahead of time while you are not paying an attorney’s fees.

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

For instance, if you are registered to vote in Harris County, Texas, pay taxes here, own property here and intend to return here after your stay in the military is complete then you are likely domiciled in Harris County. A court in Harris County would likely declare that they have jurisdiction over your divorce despite your not currently residing here.

Be wary of trying to get a divorce outside of the United States in order to try to save time and money. You can likely get a piece of paper from some foreign entity declaring you and your spouse as divorced, but it is not going to be worth the piece of paper that it is printed on. Consider hiring an attorney in the part of Texas that you are domiciled in and to work on a divorce in that fashion. It will take more time and cost more money but the end result will be a legitimate and legal divorce.

What actually happens in a divorce?

You may have a general idea of what a divorce is but it is likely that you have some questions on the subject as well. This is perfectly natural and not something to be alarmed at. Most people do not do research into family law in their spare time, especially someone like yourself who is serving their country abroad. Let’s take this opportunity to increase your knowledge of what you are seeking 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 have all been resolved in a divorce.

Your divorce will either end with you and your spouse attending a trial where a judge will render orders related to these subjects or (more likely) you and your spouse will attend mediation whereby you both settle on these issues before the need to attend a trial even arises.

How long can you expect a divorce to take?

A divorce in Texas will take at least sixty days. From the date, you file your divorce petition until the date on which a judge can grant you a divorce you must wait at least sixty days. This is done to allow you and your spouse a “cooling off” period where you can do some soul searching and decide whether or not you actually want to get a divorce after all.

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.

On the other hand, if you and your spouse are amenable to working together to resolve your issues, and furthermore if those issues are few and far between, your divorce may resolve rather quickly.

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

One common question that I am asked by servicemembers is whether or not an attorney is even necessary for situations where you and your spouse do not own property nor have any children together.

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

Allow me to make an argument for hiring an attorney despite your not having significant issues regarding property or children, however. One thing that you are keenly aware of at this stage in your life is that you are not living in the United States. Take a step outside where you are reading this blog post and look down at the ground. That is not the soil of the contiguous United States, Alaska or Hawaii. You are in a foreign country and you will not have the benefit of popping into 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 he or she 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.

The nice thing about having an attorney is that his or her life’s work is committed to helping people as you get divorced. That means you are paying them to keep an eye on your case and to advise you of changes or upcoming events.

In general, I do not recommend you going 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 good family law attorney and 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 come on back to our website tomorrow to read about how to go about getting a divorce while living abroad in the military. If you have questions on this subject or any other in the field of family law please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our licensed family law attorneys will be honored to speak to you about your case over the phone, via Skype or by whatever means is best for 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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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 important to speak with ar 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 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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