Divorce is never simple, but when both spouses are active military personnel, it can be more difficult to resolve issues.
When one or both partners are active duty military members or members of the reserve components, the divorce is referred to as a “military divorce.” Divorce in the military is subject to stricter regulations than in the civilian sector. It may take more time and effort to get a divorce while serving in the military due to additional laws put in place for the protection of military people going through a divorce.
In the case of a divorce while serving in the Texas military, knowing and protecting your legal rights is crucial.
Can I receive a military divorce if I currently reside in the state of Texas and if not, why?
Divorce proceedings for active-duty military personnel in Texas differ significantly from those of civilians in the state. Though the Texas Family Code generally applies, there are a few exceptions and changes for those who are actively serving in the armed forces. Moreover, rules enforced by one military service could be slightly different from those of another. Spousal and child support, for instance, might be calculated in accordance with the military’s own unique set of rules.
There is two major federal legislation that defines the legal status of military families. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act both provide legal protections for service members and their exes (USFSPA). They allow the Texas courts to deal with matters like military pensions and default judgments.
One of the most important questions in every divorce involving a military member is whether or not personal service is necessary. Any attempt at service other than personal delivery will not be accepted. For instance, if one spouse is currently serving in the military and is stationed abroad, the divorce process could take longer to conclude.
Service members may also be given more time before they must react to a call to duty. If you are currently serving in the military, you get an additional 90 days to reply to a summons or other legal procedure according to the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA). They might petition the court to postpone the hearing until they return from active duty.
Safety Procedures for Military Divorce Hearings in Texas
The process of divorce in the armed forces is governed by a number of federal statutes. The government enacted the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to help service members out, and it allows them to get out of leases, mortgages, and interest payments without legal ramifications. A significant challenge was preventing divorces among married active-duty service members while they were abroad on deployment.
When a service member requests to postpone surgery in Texas, the courts will often allow them to do so until the end of their active duty, but they will extend that time frame if necessary. After they end their military service, they have up to 60 days to respond to a petition for dissolution of marriage. In contrast, a spouse in a civil union often has only 20 days to reply.
Divorce petitions from Texas residents must meet federal residency requirements. The law requires at least six months of continuous residence in the state and ninety days of continuous residence in the county where the divorce action will be filed before a divorce case can be filed. Any person who is a Texas resident and is actively serving outside of Texas or overseas will be considered to meet the residency criteria for divorce purposes in Texas.
If a military person is stationed in Texas for six months and in a certain county for ninety days, they are eligible for a divorce even if they have never lived in the state before. Any military spouse who was present in Texas during the specified periods can file for divorce there as they are considered domiciliary.
Marrying a Service Member
The divorce process can begin once the service member has been legally served with divorce papers. It is critical that you hand over these papers in person. It could be more challenging if one spouse is stationed far away.
The couple also has the option of divorce if they want to separate on amicable terms. Divorce could be amicable if the couple can settle all the fundamental concerns that led to the breakup. If the servicemember files a waiver affidavit, his or her spouse will not have to personally serve court paperwork.
Texas’ Military Divorce Laws
Divorce in the military requires the same grounds as a divorce in civilian life. In order to get a divorce from a service member, one spouse must prove one of the following to the court:
- Following a three-year separation
- A lack of interest in one another for a full year
- Having committed a crime punishable by a prison term of at least a year
- Getting treated for mental health
If you and your spouse have reached an impasse that cannot be resolved, it may be time to end your marriage. When there is no proof of misconduct on either party, it is typical for the divorce to be uncontested. No of the prognosis, a patient must spend more than three years in a psychiatric hospital.
The Division of Assets in a Divorce
A military marriage in Texas is recognized the same as a civil union when it comes to property division. All marital property and obligations will be divided fairly in accordance with the laws of the state in which the couple now resides. None of the assets will be shared among the surviving family members; rather, everything will stay with its current owner. Before marriage, each partner keeps their own property. This involves receiving something as a gift, selling something, or inheriting anything.
Some federal legislation also affects military marriages, in addition to the normal rules that apply to all marriages. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act regulates the distribution of retirement benefits (USFSPA). If a couple has been married for at least ten years and one of them served in the military, and if they live in Texas, retirement benefits are split 50/50 in the event of a military divorce.
Parental Leave with Pay
Child support obligations in the Lone Star State are calculated using a salary-based method. For instance, if you have one child, they will receive 20% of your disposable income. Each subsequent child receives 25% of the total. As a counterpoint, a military member’s general duty pay cannot account for more than 60% of their total pay and benefits. Seek the advice of a lawyer who has handled similar cases before.
The other parent can request interim custody under Texas law if the custodial parent is called to active duty. The following people may be granted temporary custody of a child by the court:
- The non-custodial parent has strong reservations about the caretaker their child’s custodial parent has chosen.
- The court may decide to go with a different candidate.
- Temporary custody will be granted to the non-custodial parent while the court decides on a permanent arrangement. Therefore, the deployed parent must have the court decide that the other parent’s taking custody is not in the child’s best interests before appointing a new custodian.
And let’s say the court rules that the child’s best interests aren’t served by either the noncustodial parent or the custodial parent’s choice serving as an interim caretaker. If that happens, the court will decide on custody issues on its own.
The temporary custody arrangement will end once the parent who has it returns from military service. Both parents will resume their roles and privileges prior to the deployment date.
There is no change in a service member’s need to pay spousal support due to military service. When deciding whether or not to award alimony in a divorce involving a member of the armed forces, the court will take into account the dependent spouse’s employment and earning potential. The court will honor the provisions of any prenuptial agreements between the parties to the marriage.
Spousal support may be granted for a short length of time or for a longer period of time, depending on the circumstances. The duration of the commitment is based on the couple’s marital age and the obligor’s financial security. Alimony is not affected by either spouse’s behavior during the marriage or the quality of the couple’s relationship. In no case may a member’s combined spousal and child support obligations surpass 60% of his or her gross monthly income.
Filing Requirements for Military Personnel
The first step in getting a divorce is filing a Petition for Divorce with the District Clerk’s office in whichever county contains the primary residence of one of the divorcing spouses. Two copies are required, one for each of you to share. Payment of the filing fee will result in the Clerk assigning a case number to your documents.
The next step is to give your husband official notice. Meeting in person, writing an email, or using printed materials are all viable options. After you have served your spouse, you must fill up an affidavit of service and file it with the court. Your spouse will be able to be served with court documents and be informed of court dates if they submit an answer within 20 days after the date of service. Learn more about military affidavits here.
When the 60-day period following the date of filing has elapsed, a final judgment can be issued.
Benefits and Safeguards for the Spouse of a Service Member in the Event of Divorce
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act protects the rights of a former military spouse following a divorce (USFSPA). It determines what share of the service member’s retirement benefits the other spouse will receive. Military retiree benefits are not eligible for the division until after a couple has been married for at least ten years. Medical treatment is only one of the many benefits available to military spouses.
The spouse of a service member may be eligible for a number of benefits. They take into account both the total number of years you were married and the portion of those years that you each spent in the military.
The 20/20/30 rule states that a non-military spouse is entitled to the same health care, health insurance, and other benefits granted to the service member’s immediate family (20 years of service, 20 years of marriage, and 20 years of overlapping between them).
The former spouse will only be eligible for one year of medical coverage and access to military pharmacies in the event of a 20-year marriage with a 15-year overlap in active service. If a prospective spouse does not already have access to comparable coverage through an employer or another group plan, both plans become effective immediately. The Continued Health Care Benefit Program is available to persons who do not have health insurance that satisfies the ACA’s minimum coverage standards of either 20/20/20 or 20/15/15. (CHCBP).
You should hire a lawyer with experience in military divorces if you are going through one, regardless of whether you were served with papers or initiated the process. They will have a firm grasp of your situation and problems and will be equipped to aid you accordingly.
This crucial assignment calls for the assistance of a seasoned professional. Since this isn’t a typical case, you should seek a lawyer who specializes in military divorces. The person you choose to represent you now will have a major impact on your life years from now.