Houston Military Divorce Lawyers
We Can Guide You Through Your Military Divorce
Divorce in Houston 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 anger. You are being asked to master your emotions while trying to navigate the confusing and tedious legal framework surrounding the divorce process.
Divorce can be so difficult, but it is even more difficult when one or both spouses are serving in the military.
On This Page:
- How Is Military Divorce Different?
- Military Divorce in Texas
- What Does a Military Divorce Involve?
- Military Divorce and Residency Requirements
- Division of Military Benefits and Property
- Military Child Custody Arrangements
- Custody and Visitation During Deployment
- Military Child Support
- Consult With An Attorney
Facing a military divorce? Contact us at (713) 766-5355 to set up an appointment to discuss your legal rights and options.
How Is Military Divorce Different?
Being a military member, especially one serving overseas or away from home, adds a new dimension to the legal process of divorce or separation. If you are contemplating a military divorce, then you need to find a skilled lawyer with experience dealing with the unique circumstances that can arise from a military divorce.
At Diggs & Sadler, our Houston military divorce attorneys 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 in the military.
Military Divorce in Texas
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 papers 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.
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.
What Does a Military Divorce Involve?
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 include, but are not limited to:
- 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 with military divorce matters means that you are on the right path when it comes to fighting for the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Military Divorce & Residency Requirements
One of the complications that can arise from a military divorce stems from residency.
Just because you currently live in Texas doesn’t necessarily mean that you are able to file for divorce in the state of Texas; however, if you are a member of the military or are the spouse of someone in the military, then you may file for divorce in Texas if you have been in Texas long enough to meet the residency requirements.
To file for divorce in Texas, you must have been a "domiciliary” of the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce, as well as a resident of the county that you are filing in for at least 90 days prior to filing for divorce. Furthermore, Texas law considers that a military service member who chooses Texas as his or her domicile to be a resident domiciliary of Texas regardless of where that person’s military service takes him or her.
Do you currently live in Texas, or is Texas your home and you are away on active military service? Would you like to proceed with a military divorce? If so, then contact the law firm of Diggs & Sadler now! Our Houston military divorce attorneys can review your case and help you determine if you meet the state’s residency requirements.
Division of Military Benefits & Property in a Military Divorce
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. Military couples should be aware that in Texas, property acquired during the marriage will typically be divided. Each party may be able to assert their rights to preserve separate property to themselves, that is, property that they can prove was acquired prior to marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance.
When it comes to dividing the property itself, Texas law requires a judge to divide the community property in a way that is considered “just and right.”
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.
Military Child Custody Arrangements
Child custody issues are some of the most complicated to sort out in a military divorce. 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 both parents have the opportunity to take an active role in parenting.
There are no uniform federal laws in place regarding military custody cases. However, the following rules provide legal guidance in these cases:
- Military custody cases are referred to the child’s home state
- A custodian may only apply for federal jurisdiction if he or she believes the custody proceedings have violated his or her constitutional rights or, in some cases, a specific federal statute
- A servicemember on active duty deployment may apply for a 90-day legal stay on proceedings
- This stay may be renewed after the 90-day period has expired if the individual cannot address the custody case due to his or her deployment
- A servicemember’s deployment or record may be used against him or her in a custody case
Although a military parent may establish a temporary custody arrangement during deployment, legal challenges can arise back home during the course of that deployment. It’s important for military parents to consider their legal options and how to proceed in defending their custody rights.
Custody & Visitation When One Parent Is Deployed
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, the couple or the court must determine what is in the best interest of the child.
Following deployment, a servicemember may consider asking the court to grant extra visitation after they have returned. Where a servicemember is moved to a new base of operations, options for long-distance arrangements and periods of possession that will work on leave should be considered, as well as other contact such as video-conferencing, texting, and email with the child when the deployment circumstances permit.
Again, these unique circumstances may make it more difficult to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Strong emotions may also come into. An attorney who understands the nuances of military divorce can help you navigate the legal and emotional implications of these decisions and create a plan for you and your family to keep your best interests at heart.
Military Child Support
Monetary child support for a military divorce is based on Texas state guidelines. In most situations, the net income of the noncustodial parent, or the parent who is not residing with the child, will be taken into consideration when determining how much child support is due.
Consult an Experienced Houston Military Divorce Attorney
Divorce is a difficult process, only made more arduous because a spouse is a member of the military. While military divorce may mean separating from someone, you don’t have to go through this process alone. The team at Diggs & Sadler offers both legal counsel and emotional support as you maneuver through this difficult time.
The life of a military family is unique and so are the circumstances of their divorces. Rely on an attorney who has experience handling the nuances that come with a military divorce — rely on the team at Diggs & Sadler.
Send us a message or call (713) 766-5355 to speak with our military divorce lawyers in Houston.
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