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COVID-19 and Military Divorce: Unique Circumstances Amid a Pandemic

The life of a person who serves in our military is already very unique. If you can't yourself among one of our military members then you understand what service and commitment all is about. You have chosen to take our life that for a period of time will not be fully your own. You are asked to take on responsibility and perform duties that many of us would be unwilling to. challenge ourselves with. I think it is fair to say that members of the military are cut from a different cloth then are civilians. However, that does not mean that members of the military in our country do not have problems in their lives just like the rest of us do. 

Being in the military during a pandemic can be a nerve-wracking time for a family. While your employment status may not be in jeopardy like many civilians, if a child custody case or divorce confronts you and you still have to answer many questions that are unique to you and your circumstances. As with any person who is going through a difficult family law case, I would always recommend that you inquire and look into hiring legal representation. Your circumstances are not simple to the point where self-representation Is a real possibility. 

No matter where you read this blog post the simple truth is that you're being in the military is not something that will allow you to put a divorce off forever. Even if you are away from home and your spouse is back in the Houston area he or she may file for divorce without your being in the area. This may be a difficult concept for you to stomach right now but it is the truth and there is nothing legally preventing him or her from doing so. The best you can do is prepare yourself for what is to come. 

I would like to spend some time discussing what a military divorce looks like and what specific factors in your type of case you need to be aware of. Then, at the conclusion of today's blog post, I will spend a little bit of time discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic can play into an impact your case. However, I think the unique factors of a military divorce that would be in play during anytime. Are the most relevant circumstances for us to discuss to begin with. 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 for a free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys. 

The basics of military divorce In Texas

I think it bears mentioning that people like yourself who are enlisted in the Armed Services of our country have a much more rigorous and difficult life then most civilians. The stresses that are associated with being deployed and being a distance from your family for long stretches of time can wreak havoc on a family dynamic and on a marriage. As a result, it would not take much Internet research for you to learn that military families go through divorces at fairly high rates. This does not speak to the nature of a family circumstances necessarily or to the character of the persons involved but rather to the overall stresses and hardships that military families go through on behalf of our nation. 

When a person files for divorce in Texas and is a resident of our state then most of the time it is only the laws of Texas that will impact that divorce. The Texas family code contains provisions and statutes regarding divorce and how a legal system like ours can and a marriage between two persons. Well federal statutes govern Topics like dividing up certain types of retirement accounts it is more likely that the state of Texas laws regarding divorce will govern just about every aspect of the rest of your case for a fairly straightforward, typical civilian divorce in our state. 

On the other hand, military divorces are ones that involve both state law and federal law. When you are determining where a divorce should be filed, for instance, then you should be aware that Texas is a proper venue and would have jurisdiction over your case even if you and your spouse have not lived here for some time. If you all considered Texas to be home, then you may file for divorce in the County In Texas where you had previously major residents and plan to return in the future. This can surprise some people who are served with divorce papers from Texas, but you have not lived here for some time. 

Military retirement benefits- what do you need to know?

Beyond serving one’s country and standing up for what you believe in, one of the key reasons why many people choose to serve in our military is for the structure and stability that the military provides for service members and their families. Whether you think of it as a job or not, serving in the military is a place of employment for you. You derive your income from military service and accrue benefits for health and retirement through serving in the military. As a result, in a divorce situation your military benefits are an issue that you need to keep in mind in that you and your attorney need to keep your focus on.

Whether or not your spouse will have the ability to gain a portion of your military pension during the divorce depends on a number of factors. Maybe the most significant of us factors is the length of your marriage. If you and your spouse have only been married for a relatively short period of time, then it is likely that your military pension is not going to be divisible in the divorce. This is different than for civilian Divorces where even a short marriage can result in the division of a retirement plan.  

Can your spouse take advantage of the fact that you are in the military in the divorce? 

One thing that you can count on is that while a divorce can be filed by your spouse while you are serving the country in the military, the case cannot really begin until you are discharge from your duties. The service members civil relief act protects you from a divorce being initiated without your knowledge and prevents default judgements from being entered against you if you do not respond to a divorce petition Within the allotted time. While many people do get divorced while in the military this law prevents a divorce from proceeding unless you waive its protections and agree to proceed. 

Where could your divorce be based when you are in the military? 

As I mentioned a moment ago, due to the mobility of you and your family you may have questions about where a divorce could be started if you or your spouse wanted to file. Would you need to file your divorce in the area where you are currently stationed if you are in the United States or could you file for divorce in Houston Where you consider yourself at home? 

The general rule for civilians is that in order to file for divorce in Texas you need to be a resident of the city Texas for the six months Preceding your filing in a resident of the County where you were going to file for three months prior to your filing. This is the way that your home County acquires jurisdiction over your case and would allow for your case to proceed in their courts. 

Given that you are in the military this is a requirement that you likely do not meet. Military members move with great frequency and as a result you may not have a settled home, or if you do feel like you have a home then a move may be necessitated by your service in just a few years. The law in Texas is that if you are a military member you can still file for divorce in this state even if you are not living in Texas currently. 

How do you divide up community assets in a divorce?

4 military spouses, the key to understanding the issue of dividing up a pension is that your marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years for your military pension to be an issue in your divorce. If your marriage has a duration of less than 10 years, then your pension cannot be divided in the divorce. This means that your spouse would not be able to receive direct payments from your military pension. Keep in mind that your 10 years of marriage must also be concurrent with 10 years of military service. So, if you have been married for 10 years but have only been in the military for Seven of those 10 years then Your spouse would not be able to get your pension in a divorce. 

When it comes to other issues regarding the property division in your divorce then the Community property laws of the state of Texas would apply. All property acquired during the course of your marriage is presumed to be Community property apps and other evidence. This means that property, real estate, personal property and debts are all considered to be part of the community estate if you and your spouse acquired them during the course of your marriage. Especially if you are proceeding with the divorce when you are not your home in Texas is important for you to have representation to guide you on how to best negotiate the division of these assets and debts. 

One aspect of Community property that I can think of which is unique for military members is that you need to be able to ensure that your property is maintained during the course of your divorce. Therefore, I would work with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that temporary orders are put into place that restrict responsibility to tamper with or remove any property in your family home. Given that you are not able to readily protect your property or even Account for much of it this is absolutely critical for you. 

Considerations for military family going through divorce in the era of COVID-19 

in my opinion, if you are a military member who is going through a divorce right now then your primary concern should be with the health and safety of your children and your family. I cannot speak to any specific changes that military members on deployment are undergoing currently but I would imagine that with so much up in the air regarding future plans that you may not know exactly where you will be in the next couple of years. 

If this is the case, you should absolutely consider hiring a family law attorney who can help you negotiate through uncertainty when it comes to where you will be physically located over the next few years. This is especially important if you have children And we'll need to negotiate for and create flexible visitation structures that allow you to take advantage of all the time you can with your children While ensuring that you are able to fulfill your duties to our military. 

Overall, this time period is not one where you should necessarily shy away from filing for divorce. Yes, there are challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic such as the closing of many courts and the inability to have in person hearings quickly uncontested matters. However, given that you are likely not reading this blog post from Texas your divorce would have been one conducted virtually for the most part anyways. With that said, if you have an experienced attorney fireside Inn are knowledgeable about the issues facing you and your family then I wouldn't tell you that this time is any worse than any other to file for divorce in Texas. 

Questions about military divorces in Texas? 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 consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video where we can answer your questions and address your specific concerns. 


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