Military Divorce and Property Division
Award-Winning Houston Lawyers Available 24/7
Military divorces have unique circumstances that need personalized solutions. Additional legal issues often cause headaches for servicemembers and their families if they aren’t represented by an attorney who understands military law as it pertains to divorce and property division. That’s where we come in.
Call the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC for help today: (281) 810-9760.
The Basics of Divorce for Military Members
If you and your spouse claim residency in Texas, a civil family court in your county will process your case. Texas law states that you must be a resident of the state for 180 days before filing for divorce. Once you have established proof that you are a Texas resident, you can then officially serve your spouse divorce papers.
A significant difference between civilian and military divorce is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This provides additional time for your spouse to respond to the petition for divorce if they are an active-duty member. SCRA allows active duty servicemembers to postpone their response to the divorce papers by up to 90 days.
Divorce and Property Division in the Military
Property division for military divorces follows state law with few exceptions.
Texas is a community property state, which means that any property owned or acquired during the marriage is communal. In contrast, property purchased before the marriage or with separate funds is individual. The court splits joint (communal) property fairly unless you or your spouse provide evidence that it is separate. Pension plans, debt, and benefits are also subject to division, which can be more complex for military divorces.
Pensions are complicated to divide in a civilian divorce, and military divorces are no different. Direct payments on a retirement benefit are not available for spouses married less than ten years. Pensions are divided for alimony settlements and as an additional source of money for child support in some cases.
Federal laws also cover the division of military retirement. In Texas, it is the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA). In the simplest terms, this law allows family law courts to treat retirement pay for veterans as separate or communal property.
This works in one of two ways:
- The retirement benefits are deemed separate, and your spouse does not receive any portion of the plan.
- Your retirement is communal, so the judge decides, based on your circumstances, on a fair division of benefits. The retirement benefits are combined with other community property like a house, bank accounts, civilian retirement benefits, etc.
Some courts may consider retirement benefits (if they are ruled communal) a source of income to pay child support or alimony. While this does not happen often, it is a possibility under USFSPA.
Another way military divorce differs from civilian divorce is health benefits. For your spouse to be eligible to receive health benefits through the military, your marriage must have lasted for at least 20 years, and you must have served during at least 20 years of those years.
An Attorney and Advocate
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, has worked with countless military families in the divorce process. Our award-winning firm stands apart from others in our down-to-earth approach to the families we represent. We understand how stressful military divorce can be, but we will be by your side every step of the way. Our divorce attorneys are available 24/7, and your first consultation is free.
Contact us onlineor call us today at (281) 810-9760 to learn more about how we can help you protect your property and assets during a military divorce.