Filing for a divorce in Texas? Here’s how it works for military families.
Statistics on the percentage of divorces among first marriages may vary widely, with estimates ranging from 22% – 41% on average. But the reality is clear: not all marriages will remain intact, and divorce is a scenario that many couples may face.
Marital problems are statistically more likely for people on some career paths over others. A close look at divorce rates among individuals at age 30 shows that military jobs rank among the jobs with the highest divorce rate. In fact, according to this research presented by Lending Tree, military careers take the number one spot! If you’re considering a military divorce in Texas, you’ll need to know the unique laws of the Lone Star State as they apply to military families.
Why is Divorce so Prevalent in the Military?
Some of the commonly cited reasons for military divorce include:
stress and trauma caused by active duty
reintegrating the military spouse to “home” life
periods of long separation during deployments
frequent home moves.
There are also many cultural traditions that place a high value on marriage in the military, which can sometimes lead to a rush to the altar.
Getting a Military Divorce in Texas
Filing for a military divorce, just like a regular divorce, begins in the state where the spouse has a legal residence. You also must have been a Texas resident for at least 180 days as well as a resident of your county for at least 90 days to file for a divorce.
What makes military divorce unique is that there are several provisions in place that take into account how mobile and often time-constrained military personnel are. The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA), in particular, gives an active duty military spouse additional time to respond to divorce papers. This means that if your military spouse is on active duty, your divorce proceedings may potentially be postponed for the duration of their time on duty plus an additional 60 days from the time they leave active duty. The exception to this is if your military spouse, in an uncontested divorce, chooses to waive their SCRA protections and allow the divorce to proceed.
Division of Assets in a Military Divorce
Similarly to the protections in place for divorce proceedings, there are unique laws that impact the division of assets (such as pensions) in a military divorce. The federal law that governs military pensions is the “Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act” (USFSPA). This law accomplishes two things: It recognizes the right of state courts to distribute military retirement pay to a spouse or former spouse; and it provides a method of enforcing these orders through the Department of Defense.
Because Texas is a community property state, most property that is acquired by the military member and their spouse during the marriage is considered to be jointly owned. It’s important to note, however, that you can only receive disbursements from your military spouse’s retirement benefits if you were married for at least 10 years AND they were on active duty during those 10 years (this is in addition to the other provisions listed in the USFSPA.)
There are several other complexities to dividing assets in a military divorce, so it’s important to consult your attorney as you navigate the process.
Child Custody and Support
Moving is a common part of life for most military families. But how will a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) impact your child visitation schedule in a military divorce? What about the relocation of your child?
The Service Members Civil Relief Act we mentioned earlier has guidelines for these scenarios as well. In a separate blog, we have broken down the SCRA and its detailed guidance on military:
Be sure to ask your lawyer for specifics on your unique case. Every instance of divorce is slightly different from the next, and your lawyer can help you to parse out the important details.
Consult an Experienced Attorney
Ready to begin the process or looking for more details on military divorce in Texas? We can help.
Capps Law Firm exclusively practices in family law, so we can provide the depth of expertise your case demands. We handle military family law cases that involve:
Dissolutions and Divorce — Our law firm is skilled in guiding clients through the myriad of legal and personal challenges associated with ending a relationship.
Child Custody and Visitation — Whether the matter is ultimately resolved in a conference room or a courtroom, we are ready to advocate for our clients’ parental rights and interests every step of the way.
Complex Property Division — We will do everything we can to make sure that our clients end up on the strongest financial footing possible.
We can give you the tools that you need to get through one of the hardest seasons of your life. Divorce is rarely easy, but the peace of mind of knowing your next steps can make all the difference.