Houston Military Divorce Lawyers
Divorce is an often difficult and painful decision to make. You entered into a marriage filled with love, hope, and optimism, only for those emotions to turn into something else entirely. Now the prospect of divorce is looming, and you may be filled with sorrow, apprehension, and even anger. You are being asked to master your emotions while trying to navigate the confusing and tedious legal framework surrounding the divorce process. This is why divorce can be so difficult. It is made even more difficult when one or even both spouses are serving in the military.
Being a military member, especially one serving overseas or away from home adds a new dimension to the legal process of separation. That is why if you are contemplating a divorce, you need to find a skilled lawyer with experience dealing with the unique circumstances that can arise from a military divorce.
At Holmes, Diggs & Sadler we understand the unique circumstances and situations that can impact a military divorce. Whether you are currently a servicemember or are the spouse of a service member, we know what it takes to help you protect your family and your financial stability. A divorce is a major life event that could impact you for the rest of your life, especially if you have children. Don’t put your future in inexperienced or incapable hands. Trust the team with the experience and resources to help you navigate the sometimes-complicated process of divorce. Contact us at (713) 802-1777 to set up an appointment to discuss your legal rights and options.
Military Divorce in Texas
It is crucial to seek an attorney with experience dealing with military divorces due to the federal laws that exist to protect active-duty military members. The Servicemember Civil Relief Act is a piece of federal legislation that, in part, helps protect active-duty military members from being divorced by their spouses without their knowledge. In order for a Texas court to even hear divorce proceedings, the active-duty military member must be served with divorce paper in person. A military divorce can also be postponed while a service member is on active duty and for an additional 60 days after their return. An active-duty servicemember can waive these protections if they want to proceed with divorce as soon as the divorce is filed, regardless of active duty status.
Military Divorce Issues
There are unique aspects involved in a military divorce that may not be applicable to a civilian divorce. Making sure that your attorney understands these issues and the complications that can emanate from these issues is essential. Some of the specific items that may come into play in a military divorce can include:
- Deployment and child custody
- Base privileges
- Division of pensions
- Spousal support
- Survivor benefits
- Health care benefits
- Other military benefits
Having an attorney that is experienced in dealing with these issues means that you are on the right path when it comes to fighting for the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Divorce Filing Residency Complications
One of the complications that can arise from a military divorce stems from residency. Just because you currently live in Texas, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are able to file for divorce in the state of Texas. In order to file for any type of divorce in Texas, you must be a legal resident of the state for at least 180 days, which means an active-duty servicemember must be stationed in Texas for these residency requirements to apply. You must also be a resident of the country that you are filing in for at least 90 days prior to filing for a divorce. Residency requirements can make divorce proceedings difficult because military members tend to move frequently. Constant moving may make it difficult to establish a solid residency in any one state, making the process of getting a divorce even more complicated.
If you are currently living in Texas and would like to proceed with a divorce, contact the law firm of Holmes, Diggs & Sadler. We can review your case and help you determine if you meet the state’s residency requirements.
Division of Property and Benefits
Every divorce case is unique, which can impact the outcome of every aspect of a divorce from child custody to the division of property. Federal law dictates that couples married for 10 years or more must share a military member’s retirement benefits. However, Texas also has additional laws that are applied to couples married for any length of time. This means that any benefits accrued during the duration of the marriage can be subject to division during a divorce.
Texas is a community property state. This means that property acquired during a marriage belongs to both spouses. So, in the case of divorce, that property is subject to being divided between the two spouses. There are only very few exceptions to the community property rule in Texas. However, community property refers only to property that was gained over the course of the marriage, it does not pertain to property that was owned by a spouse prior to marriage.
When it comes to dividing the property itself, Texas law requires a judge to divide the property in a way that is considered “just and right.” That statement leaves things open to some interpretation. In essence, it means that there are a number of factors that a judge may take into account before dividing marital property. Those factors may include:
- Fault in breaking up the marriage
- Earning differences between spouses
- Custody arrangements
- The health and wellness of each spouse
- Each spouses level of education
- Future employment or employability of each spouse
As far as health insurance benefits are concerned, if the marriage has lasted for at least 20 years, and during those 20 years your spouse served in the military, you are eligible to receive health insurance and other benefits through the military even after divorce. If you do not meet those requirements, there may be other legal avenues to explore depending on your situation.
Child Custody Arrangements
Child custody issues are some of the most complicated to sort out. While everyone wants what is best for the child, people may have different ideas on what that looks like. This issue becomes even more complex when you factor in deployment schedules for active-duty servicemembers. Texas law states that it is typically in the best interest of the child for both parents to be given joint managing conservatorship. That means the state prefers that parents share as equally as is possible, the custody of a child, making sure that both parents take an active role in parenting. When a couple with a child divorces in Texas, they must agree on a written parenting plan. If that is difficult, they may allow a judge to enter an order about the conservatorship and physical possession of the child in terms of both custody and visitation.
Visitation and custody may become complicated when an active-duty servicemember is sent out on deployment or is transferred to another area. Under those circumstances, a couple must determine what is in the best interest of the child. In terms of deployment, a servicemember may consider asking the court to grant extra visitation after they have returned. In terms of a servicemember being moved to a new base of operations, that is a situation that must be discussed between parents and presented to the court.
Again, these unique circumstances may make it difficult to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Strong emotions may also come into play and cloud a person’s better judgment. An attorney that understands the nuances of military divorce can help you navigate the legal and even emotional implications of these decisions and create a plan for you and your family to keep your best interests at heart.
Monetary child support is based on Texas state guidelines. In most situations, the net income of the noncustodial parent, or the parent that is not residing with the child, will be taken into consideration when determining how much child support is due. The law stipulates that for one child, 20 percent of the parent’s income will go towards financially caring for the child. The percentage due goes up for each additional child.
Consult an Experienced Houston Military Divorce Attorney
It is a unique and volatile combination, a complicated and analytical legal process, and one of the most emotionally charged times in a person’s life. Divorce is a difficult process, only made more arduous because a spouse is a member of the military. While divorce may mean separating from someone, you don’t have to go through this process alone. The team at Holmes, Diggs & Sadler offers both legal counsel and emotional support as you maneuver through this difficult time.
The life of a military family is unique, so are the circumstances of their divorces. Rely on an attorney that has experience handling the nuances that come with a military divorce, rely on the team at Holmes, Diggs & Sadler.