A divorce under any circumstances is difficult to prepare for. Financial, relation, familial and other factors all way into the way that we think and prepare for a divorce. There are not many subjects that we deal with in our lives that necessitate our being aware of all of these different sort of factors within one context. As a result, the divorce presents difficulties on levels that most of us will not have to encounter in any other process that we go through as adults.
Divorcing while in the military can present its own unique set of circumstances and challenges in relation to a divorce. Not only are all the same factors listed above present in a military divorce, but you have specific considerations that need to be paid towards your family’s life within the military itself. Questions regarding retirement benefits, spousal benefits, health insurance, child custody issues, child support and even in how to get the divorce off the ground are relevant considerations but you will need to keep an eye on.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan has been fortunate and honored to represent members of our military and veterans of our military in Many divorce cases. Texas is home to more veterans and more members of our military than any other state and it should come as no surprise that many of those people live in Southeast Texas. With a large military community in our area we have had the privilege to serve these folks who have served our country with distinction. Some of the most rewarding experiences for our attorneys have been in helping members of our military.
However, that does not mean that military divorces are easy or don't come with their own set of unique challenges. On the contrary, military divorces can sometimes be more difficult in a number of different ways. All you can do in your own military divorce is prepare as well as you can with the time available to you. I realized that you do not always get to choose how much time you have to prepare for divorce, but my best advice would be to take the time that you do have and prepare as best you can.
That is where today's blog post comes into play. I would like to share with you my thoughts on how to best prepare for a military divorce in Texas. There are not two separate categories of divorces in Texas. There is no such thing as a “military divorce” or a “nonmilitary divorce,” but at times it can seem like military divorces have different rules that apply to them one compared to a civilian divorce. As a result, I recommend that you have representation during your divorce whether you are a military spouse or member of the military.
Meet with an experienced Texas family law attorney right off the bat
As I was alluding to a moment ago, it is a very smart idea for you to meet with an experienced family law attorney who practices in Texas. I specifically mentioned an attorney who practices in Texas because I realized that you may not be physically in our state right now, but your divorce may be ongoing in Texas. With that said, it is important for you to have an attorney who is familiar with how divorces operate in Texas and in What the law in Texas is regarding divorce. You may be in a position where the military is offering you an attorney through one source or another to represent you in your divorce. I would hesitate before agreeing to be represented by an attorney who does not practice in Texas though.
The reason for this advice is that Texas has its own unique set of laws regarding divorce, just like any other state. Significantly, Texas is a Community property state when it comes to dividing up your marital estate. The laws in Texas when it comes to division of the marital estate can differ significantly from most other states in the country. As a result, you really do want an attorney by your side who is handled divorces in our state in our aware of the subtleties and specifics of Community property law. Not to mention that you want an attorney who can negotiate with you and prepare you for issues related to child custody.
If you have never met with an attorney over a legal matter before this divorce, then you should not worry about having to do so. The reason being is that consultations with an attorney are typically free of charge and the attorney is not looking to give you any specific advice. Rather, you should use that initial consultation to get a feel for that attorney's level of experience, positions on the issues and to assess whether or not you feel comfortable having him or her represents you in your divorce. Since your divorce is a very personal matter to you will want to feel like your attorney has your best interest at heart.
Meeting with a family law attorney to discuss your case should be no different than trying to find a financial planner or any other professional to work in a specific area of your life. While some family law attorneys will put a certain amount of pressure on you to hire him or her, I can tell you that the attorneys with our law office do not engage in this kind of behavior. We seek to provide you with basic information about the divorce process and to answer your questions about any topic related to divorce, such as a military divorce. We believe that if we serve enough people, and do it well, we will never hurt for business.
Especially if you are trying to manage a divorce in Texas while living outside of the state then you absolutely should take advantage of technology and attempt to meet virtually with an attorney who is physically in Texas. Your case may necessitate you're traveled to Texas on occasion, but the day-to-day responsibilities of your case almost certainly can be handled by an attorney located in Texas. If you are living in Texas, then you should schedule times to meet with as many attorneys as you can Before determining who you feel most comfortable representing you in your interest moving forward.
Organize yourself as best as possible before the divorce begins
As I mentioned a moment ago, you do not always have control over when your divorce begins. In the divorce either you will file for divorce or your spouse will. Obviously if you are the party who files for divorce then you can better prepare for the process and get ready to engage in it. However, if you are the respondent spouse and have divorce papers served on you then your divorce may come out of the blue. As a result, you may either have a great deal of time to prepare for your divorce or you may have relatively little time to prepare for your divorce.
Either way, you should take the time that you have and start to get organized as quickly as possible. You can start by gathering tax documents, financial statements, retirement savings account information and any other financial documents that will be relevant in your divorce. Keep in mind that your personal bank accounts, retirement statements, other investments, information about your home and its mortgage and a host of other financial subjects will all be relevant in your divorce. It may be safe to say that the older you are in the farther you have progressed financially means the more your divorce over evolved around the finances.
With that said, you should begin to collect hard copies of these documents and to make them available electronically as well. This may mean consulting a close and trustworthy friend to help you utilized technology to scan and save these documents. This is especially true if you believe that you will need to leave the home or that your spouse may take the documents with him or her causing you to lose access to them. Can you take advantage of the time that you have to get ahold of these documents and make copies for you and your future attorney to utilize?
It is true that your attorney and their staff can help you locate and organize these documents during a divorce, but the reality of that situation is that doing so will cost you money. Keep in mind that family law attorneys and their staff billed by the hour in that any help or service provided to you during the case will be billed. Why not take the time when you are able and do the work yourself? It will cost you some time and effort, but you will be able to be that much more prepared for when your divorce gets going.
Begin to take steps to help provide consistency and stability for your children in paragraph
one of the realities of military life is that you and your family have likely never lived in one place for longer than Three to five years. As you or your spouse attain more seniority in the military it is more likely than you all would have been able to plant roots for longer in any area. This adaptability for you, your spouse and your children should come in handy during your divorce. Many civilian families are inexperienced when it comes to sorting out issues related to chains in a divorce. Your family, on the other hand, should be better versed in Dealing with disruption to your daily life.
That does not mean that you should not attempt to do everything you can to maintain some degree of stability and consistency in the lives of your children during this time. Inevitably your children will see changes in their lives associated with the divorce. Their parents will be living in separate households. They will not be able to spend as much time with either you or your spouse in the future as they have right now. The days of seeing mom and dad in the same house are likely over forever. However, there is reason to attempt to maintain stability and consistency for your kids despite the challenges in doing so.
If you and your spouse can work together to speak to your kids about the divorce, reinforce your mutual love for each of them and to walk them through the stages of the divorce that may be a good start. A lot of this depends on the age of your children. Younger children are less able to comprehend and manage the changes associated with divorce. Older children will likely have more questions about the divorce and will notice more significantly the day-to-day disruptions in their life associated with visiting with parents into household. Use your best judgement on how to talk to your children about the divorce with your spouse depending on their ages.
Finally, do not assume that just because your children have gone through disruptions to their daily lives before that the divorce will be just another instance of your children made needing to be flexible and adaptable. There are emotional components to divorce which are unique the lives of your family. It doesn't matter how many changes you have seen occur in your daily lives in the past. Be aware of this and attempt to reinforce consistency and stability in their lives whenever possible.
Questions about military divorce in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about military divorce and family law in Texas 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 in via video. If you are a military member or military spouse and do not live in Texas currently then it may be a great idea for you to schedule a virtual consultation with one of our attorneys. Thank you for your interest in today's blog post topic and please join us again tomorrow as we share more unique content regarding the world of Texas family law.