If you are married to a member of our armed services then you deserve special recognition as someone who has paid a price, along with your spouse, in order to benefit our nation and your fellow citizens. As a military spouse, you are afforded certain rights that civilians are not entitled to. Those rights come to the forefront in a divorce.
Those rights and benefits that are afforded to you are important and sometimes essential to your being able to survive. Committing yourself to a spouse who is on the go so often and never in one place for an extended period of time has likely made it very difficult for you to go out into the world to earn a living of your own or even to go back to school and earn a college degree. Now that you are faced with the prospect of a divorce you may be worried that you will be at a disadvantage because you have less of an ability to provide for yourself absent those benefits.
In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC we will discuss the topic of military benefits and divorce in greater detail. If at any point in our discussion you have questions or seek clarification on anything please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.
Military families are unique- so are their divorces
As I have already touched on, your life as a military spouse is different than the relationship that most husbands and wives have. The nature of your service to our country makes your life less steady, more mobile and can be quite stressful even in the best of circumstances.
Obviously, divorce is far from the best of circumstances and you may be wondering how your life will be different now that you have either filed for divorce or are in a position where you need to answer a divorce petition that has been filed by your spouse.
That’s not to say that your divorce will be completely different from a civilian divorce, however. Assuming that you and your spouse still claim residency in Texas, your case will be filed in a civil family law court in the Texas county where you are residents. The law in Texas is that you must have been a resident of the State for 180 days prior to filing for divorce and must have been a resident of the county that you are filing in for the prior 90 day period in order for a court in that county to have jurisdiction over your case.
Once you have established that you are a resident of Texas and the specific county where you would like to file for divorce, you will need to serve your divorce petition and citation upon your spouse in order to provide him or her with legal notice that a divorce has been filed against him or her. A key difference between your divorce and a civilian divorce involves your needing to abide by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) which provides your spouse additional time to respond to a petition for divorce if he or she is an active duty member of the military whose situation is keeping them from filing an Answer and generally proceeding with the divorce.
So, if your spouse is living overseas and you are residing stateside at a base or even at a base or installation in Europe, you are likely much more able to contact attorneys and go about your normal activities when compared with your spouse. The SCRA allows active duty servicemembers to postpone your divorce for at least 90 days in order to allow your spouse time to properly and adequately respond to the allegations contained within your petition for divorce.
Dividing up property in a military divorce in Texas
So while the military has different rules that apply to spouses like yourselves that are divorcing, the state law of Texas would apply to your divorce. Texas is a community property state which means that all property that you and your spouse own at the time your divorce is filed is presumed to be owned jointly by you and your spouse. This is important because, in order to prove that a particular piece of property is separately owned by one of you, it will be necessary to present evidence to that extent.
Many people have asked me whether or not the name on the title to a piece of property (house, vehicle, etc.) has any bearing on the ultimate determination of how it is classified- as either community or separate property. The answer to that question is no. It does not matter if a bank account has only your name on the account.
If the money deposited into the account came from income earned during the course of your marriage that is a community property account. Same goes for a high tilted only in your spouse’s name. If it was purchased during the course of your marriage you are likely looking at community property.
Community property is divided up in a just and right fashion. This means that if you and your spouse cannot settle on how to divide the property a judge will examine the circumstances of your case and will make a determination that is as fair as possible.
How are military retirement benefits handled in a divorce?
Retirement pay is divided up according to the laws of the state that you are divorcing in, not based on any federal laws. Even if your spouse is not of retirement age and is not drawing on his or her retirement at the time of your divorce it can still be divided up between you and your spouse according to the laws of Texas.
There is no time-based requirement that you have had to be married to your spouse for “X” amount of years to be eligible to receive a portion of the retirement benefits in your divorce. The only exception to this is that in order to receive direct payments on your share of the retirement benefits you need to have been married to your spouse for at least 10 years.
A quick word on health insurance benefits
If you and your military spouse have been married for at least twenty years, and of those 20+ years at least twenty were spent with your spouse being in the military, then you are likely eligible to receive health insurance and other benefits through the military after your divorce.
If you do not meet this qualification it would be wise to consult with your attorney to determine what next steps you should take.
Child support in a military divorces
Child support is based on guidelines as set forth in the Texas Family Code. If you are the noncustodial parent (the parent with whom your child does not reside with primarily) then your net monthly income will be considered for inputting a child support order.
Once that net monthly income is determined a percentage will be applied against it based on how many children you are responsible for. For one child, twenty percent of your income would go towards the support of him or her. Twenty-five percent would apply to two children and on up the line up to fifty percent.
Please keep in mind that if your spouse is responsible for the care of other children (under the age of 18) that are not before the court he or she will receive a credit totaling 2.5% for each of those children. So, if you and your spouse have one child and he also has another child from a prior marriage then he will end up paying you 17.5% of his net monthly income in child support.
Military divorces demand an experienced attorney-advocate
If you are considering a divorce and are either a member of the military or a spouse we would like to thank you for your service to our country. To learn more about how a military divorce can impact you, your spouse, your children, and your life, in general, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- The division of military benefits in a Texas Divorce, Part Two
- Military Divorces: Essential knowledge for Texas residents
- The United States Supreme Court Answers a Question about Military Retirement Benefits
- Military Divorces in Texas
- Essential Information for Military Divorces in Texas
- Military Support Without a Court Order During a Divorce in Texas
- How to Divorce a Spouse in the Military
- Texas Divorce - Serving Military Personnel or their Spouse Worldwide
- Texas Statute Aids Military Personnel and Their Spouses in Filing for Divorce
- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney's Fees in a Texas Divorce?
- How am I going to Pay for My Texas Divorce?
- Should I Hide Money from my Spouse to Get Ready for my Texas Divorce?
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.