Filing for Divorce in the Military

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Filing for Divorce in the Military

No divorce is easy, but when you or your spouse serve in the military, there are additional legal hurdles to overcome. While state laws dictate most of the terms of the divorce process, there are also federal laws to consider. Failing to account for these laws or not understanding them can prolong the process and lead to an undesirable outcome.

If you are getting divorced and you or your spouse serve in the armed forces, BB Law Group PLLC can help. Our military divorce attorneys in The Woodlands, TX, understand the special challenges of these cases and can help you through them. This blog outlines how to file for divorce in the military, the unique elements of these cases, and how our military divorce lawyers can help you.

Steps to File for a Military Divorce in Texas

Let’s walk through the main steps of the military divorce process in Texas so you know what you can expect:

Meeting Residency Requirements

To start a military divorce in Texas, you or your spouse meet the residency requirements under state law. Usually, this means you or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months and in a specific county for 90 days. But there are more options for military families. If one of you is stationed outside Texas but calls it your permanent home, or you’re stationed in Texas temporarily, you can still file for divorce here.

Filing and Serving Divorce Papers

Once you know you can file in Texas, one spouse starts the process by filing divorce papers with the court. Then, the other spouse needs to get these papers in person. This step can be tricky for service members, especially during overseas deployments. It might take a while, or in some cases, it might need to wait until they return. If both spouses agree on all the divorce details, a service member deployed overseas can sign a paper to skip this step.

Responding to the Divorce Documents

After getting the divorce papers, the spouse has 20 days to respond if they’re a civilian. If the spouse does not respond on time, the other spouse can pursue a “default judgment,” which means the spouse who did not respond loses their right to contest the divorce. But military members have special rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) that let them delay dealing with civil cases while on active duty and for up to 90 days after returning. This law makes sure service members can focus on their duties without worrying about divorce proceedings back home.

Dividing Property and Benefits

In Texas, the community property model means everything you and your spouse own together is usually split evenly in a divorce. But for military families, there are special rules for dividing military retirement pay and health benefits. If you were married for at least 10 years while one spouse was in the military, the non-military spouse might get part of the serving spouse’s retirement pay. Health benefits through TRICARE might also continue for the non-military spouse, depending on the length of the marriage and the duration of the spouse’s military service.

Deciding on Child Custody and Support

Texas courts want both parents involved in their children’s lives, if possible, whether or not they’re in the military. The courts will decide who the child lives with and how both parents will make crucial decisions for the child. If a military parent has to move away for duty, Texas laws help make sure they can participate in their child’s life. For child support, the amount one parent pays the other is based on their income and how many kids they have. Military or not, the rules are the same.

Determining Spousal Support (Alimony)

Filing for Divorce in the MilitaryIn Texas, spousal support (alimony) isn’t guaranteed, but you might get it if you’ve been married a long time, can’t support yourself, or need to care for a child with special needs. For military divorces, the amount of spousal support, including child support, can’t be more than 60 percent of the service member’s pay and allowances.

How We Can Help You in a Military Divorce

The mix of state and federal laws that apply to military divorces can complicate the process, making it challenging to work through a divorce yourself. By working with our Texas military divorce attorneys, you can protect your rights, make the process faster and easier on yourself, and avoid legal hiccups. You have sacrificed much for your country, so let us shoulder this burden for you. Contact BB Law Group PLLC by calling (832) 534-2589 for a consultation, or you can reach us online.