There is no easy way to divorce, but if both partners are serving in the military, things could get more complicated.
The term “military divorce” is used when either spouse is currently serving in the armed forces, whether in the regular or reserve forces. There are more stringent requirements to be divorced in the military than in the civilian world. Additional regulations are in place to protect service members going through a divorce, but they may add time and complication to the process.
Recognizing and safeguarding your legal rights in the event of a divorce in the Texas military is essential.
If I live in Texas, can I get a military divorce, and if not, why not?
There are some key distinctions between a civilian divorce in Texas and a divorce involving active-duty military personnel in Texas. Although the Texas Family Code applies to most situations, there are some exceptions and modifications that apply to active-duty service members. In addition, regulations in one military branch may vary slightly from those in another. For instance, the military may have distinct guidelines for determining spousal or child support.
The legal standing of military families is defined by two important federal acts. Two statutes that shield service members and their ex-spouses are the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). They make it possible for the courts in Texas to handle issues related to military pensions and default judgments.
In a divorce involving a member of the armed forces, one of the most pressing issues is whether or not personal service is required. Service of process by any other means is invalid. It could take longer to finalize a divorce, for instance, if one spouse is serving actively in the military and is stationed abroad.
A service member’s time to respond to service may also be extended. The Service Member’s Civil Relief Act gives active-duty service members an extra 90 days to respond to a summons or other legal process (SCRA). If they are currently deployed, they have the option of asking the court to delay the hearing until they return home.
Security Measures for Texas Military Divorce Proceedings
Several federal statutes control the military divorce procedure. To help service members out, the government passed the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which allows them to get out of leases, mortgages, and interest payments, among other things, without facing any legal repercussions. Keeping married active-duty service members from divorcing their spouses while they were away on deployment was a major obstacle.
The typical time a surgery can be delayed in Texas is until the service member’s active duty is over, but the courts will allow this to happen as long as it takes. They have up to sixty days after leaving active duty to respond to a divorce complaint. A spouse in a civil marriage, on the other hand, usually only gets 20 days to respond.
Conditions of Residence
Divorce can be filed in Texas if both parties meet federal standards. Before a divorce case may be filed, one spouse usually needs to have lived in the state for six months and in the county where the action will be filed for at least 90 days. The residency requirement is also met by any Texas resident who is currently serving outside of Texas or overseas, according to the state’s military divorce regulations.
Even if a service member has never resided in Texas before, they can get a divorce if they are stationed in the state for six months and in a specific county for ninety days. If they were accompanying their spouses on active service for the times mentioned, any spouse divorcing a military person is termed domiciliary and can petition for divorce in Texas.
Being a Military Spouse
Once a service member has been properly served with divorce papers, the divorce process can commence. It is imperative that you personally provide these documents. If one partner is stationed far away, the situation could be tougher.
If both partners choose to end the marriage amicably, they have another option. If they can reach agreements on all of the major issues surrounding their split, they may be able to divorce amicably. The spouse of a servicemember need not personally serve court documents if the servicemember signs a waiver affidavit.
Texas’s Divorce Laws Regarding Spouses in the Military
For a divorce to be granted in the military, the same legal reasons must be met as in a civilian divorce. One spouse seeking a divorce from a service member could present the court with any of the following grounds:
- Twelve months of disinterest
- After being apart for three years
- Committing a criminal that results in a jail sentence of at least one year
- Experience with a mental health facility
If you and your partner are at an insurmountable loggerhead, it’s time to call it quits on your marriage. It is common for a divorce to be uncontested when there is no evidence of wrongdoing on either party’s part. Any stay of more than three years in a psychiatric hospital is mandatory, regardless of the patient’s prognosis.
Divorce and Property Division
Regarding dividing assets, military marriages in Texas are treated the same as civil unions. The laws of the state in which the couple currently resides will be applied to the equitable distribution of any and all marital assets and debts. There will be no distribution of property; each item will remain with its current owner. All property received before a marriage is considered separate. This includes inheritance, gifts, and items purchased.
In addition to the general standards that apply to all marriages, certain federal legislation has an impact on military marriages. The distribution of retirement payments is governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). In a military divorce in the state of Texas, retirement benefits are split evenly between the spouses if they were married for at least ten years and one of them served in the military.
Paid Time Off for Parenting
Texas uses a salary-based formula to determine child support payments. If you have one child, for instance, 20% of your take-home pay will go to them. If you have two kids, each gets 25%, and so on. In contrast, a service member’s general duty cannot be more than 60% of their gross salary and allowances. You should consult an attorney with experience in such issues.
Here is how I arrived at those numbers:
- 1 child Amount equal to 20% of monthly net income
- 25% of monthly net income for 2 children
- 30% of monthly net income for three kids
- 4 kids = 35% of your net monthly income
- 5 youngsters’ net monthly income constitutes 40%
- More than six kids Budget for no less than five kids
In the event that the custodial parent gets summoned to active duty in the military, Texas law allows the other parent to apply for temporary custody of the kid. Temporary child custody may be awarded by the court to the following individuals.
A child’s other parent objects to the caretaker the child’s custodial parent has selected.
It’s possible the court will choose someone else.
Initially, the non-custodial parent will have interim custody while the court determines what is in the child’s best interests. Therefore, the court must rule that it is not in the child’s best interests for the other parent to take custody before the deployed parent can choose someone else to do so.
Also, suppose the court determines that the child’s best interests would not be served by having either the noncustodial parent or the custodial parent’s choice act as temporary custodian. In that case, the court will make its own custody determination.
When the parent who has temporary custody returns from deployment, the order will be terminated. Prior to the deployment time, both parents will regain their responsibilities and rights.
Providing for Your Spouse
A service member’s obligation to pay spousal support arising from a court order is unaffected by his or her military status. In any divorce proceeding involving a military spouse, the court will consider the dependent spouse’s job and income prospects in determining whether alimony is necessary. The terms of any prenuptial agreements between spouses will be upheld by the court.
It’s possible to receive spousal assistance for a limited amount of time or for an extended period of time. The length of the obligation is determined by the length of the marriage and the financial stability of the obligor. Neither marital misconduct nor the nature of the couple’s relationship has any bearing on the amount or structure of alimony. For the record, spousal and child support payments cannot exceed sixty percent of a member’s gross monthly income.
Formalities for Filing by Service Members
Start the divorce process by submitting a Petition for Divorce to the District Clerk’s office in the county where one of the divorcing parties resides. You should make two copies, one for you and one for your partner. When the filing fee is paid, the Clerk will give you a case number for your documents.
After that, you must formally notify your husband. It can be done face-to-face, through the mail, or in print. You must complete an affidavit of service and submit it to the court after you have served your spouse. Your spouse has 20 days from the date of service to file an answer, which will allow them to be served with court documents and get notified of court dates.
Final judgment can be issued once the 60-day waiting period from the date of filing has passed.
Legal Protections and Divorce Benefits for a Servicemember’s Spouse
After a divorce, a former military spouse’s rights are safeguarded by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA). It establishes the percentage of a service member’s retirement fund that will be allocated to the other spouse. A military couple must have been married for at least ten years before they can split their retirement benefits. Military spouses are entitled to a variety of benefits, including medical care.
There are a variety of perks that may be available to the spouse of a service person. They factor in the number of years you lived together as a married couple and the percentage of that time that was spent serving in the military.
Under the 20/20/20 rule, a non-military spouse has access to medical care, health insurance, and other benefits provided to the service member’s immediate family (20 years of service, 20 years of marriage, and 20 years of overlapping between them).
In the case of a 20-year marriage with a 15-year overlap in active service, the former spouse will only be eligible for one year of medical coverage and access to military pharmacies. The two policies apply if a partner has not yet tied the knot and does not participate in another group health insurance program. For those who don’t have insurance that meets the 20/20/20 or 20/15/15 requirements, there is the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP).
If you are going through a military divorce, whether you have been served with papers or initiated the process yourself, you should retain legal counsel with experience in this area. Your needs and concerns will be understood, and they will know just what to do to help.
A seasoned expert should be sought out for this important task. It would be a mistake to hire a lawyer who doesn’t focus on military divorces, as this isn’t a standard case. This is a long-term investment, and the individual you choose to represent you will have a significant impact on your future.