Military Divorce in Texas: What You Need to Know
Military divorce in Texas is a complex and specialized area of family law. A "military divorce" pertains to a divorce that involves individuals serving in active-duty military personnel, as well as those in the national guard or reservists. This can add additional complexity to the process compared to a civilian divorce due to the requirements imposed by federal laws related to military pensions, base rights, and entitlement under U.S. Code Title 10.
As such, it is essential for divorcing partners who are part of the military to be aware of these unique regulations, particularly if they plan on seeking dissolution of their marriage while one spouse is still enlisted in the armed forces. It may be beneficial to seek legal counsel as soon as possible who is familiar with handling military divorces and can advise you on your rights and eligibility for any benefits available under U.S. Code Title 10 so that you can fully understand all aspects of the process ahead before making any decisions about how to proceed with your own individual case related to military divorce in Texas.Residency Requirements
In Texas, there is a residency requirement for civilians seeking a divorce. Specifically, one spouse must have resided in the state for at least 6 months and their county of filing for 90 days prior to submitting the paperwork. However, active duty service members and spouses are given different options with which to meet the residency requirement for military divorces in Texas. The service member or spouse can either meet the civilian residency requirements, have a permanent residence in Texas though temporarily stationed or deployed elsewhere, or both. According to Texas Family Code § 6.303, these are the accepted methods by which a service member can prove they have established a connection to Texas sufficient to qualify as residents for purposes of filing and pursuing a military divorce within state borders.
Overall, individuals looking to pursue a military divorce in Texas must adhere to certain rules regarding residency that may be foreign to most civilians not subject to such requirements due to their relationship with the armed forces. Fortunately for those involved, the acceptance of various methods of residency proof offers much-needed flexibility when it comes time for them to file and resolve their divorce proceedings.Service of Process
When a divorce is initiated, the Petition must be served with the process to the non-filing spouse. Service of process means that authorized personnel must personally hand the required documents to the named party in order to establish legal jurisdiction over them and make them a part of the proceedings. For civilians, this can typically be done through in-person service, however, there are also other alternative methods available if direct contact is not possible.
On the other hand, military personnel has specific regulations regarding their service of process, where physical presence is a mandatory requirement for proceeding with their divorce case. Consequently, military couples are often forced to endure much longer waiting times before their respective divorces can take effect since appropriate service of process needs to be performed in person.
Despite the different criteria that need to be met for a civilian or a military divorce, both parties ultimately require proof that the necessary documents have been successfully delivered according to applicable laws and regulations in order for their divorce case to move forward unhindered. This serves as another reminder of how incredibly important it is that all parties involved adhere closely with respect to all aspects of family law proceedings so as not to fall foul of any rules or protocols during what could be an already arduous period.Division of Property and Benefits
The first thing to note with any divorce in Texas is that all marital property will be divided according to the community property model. This means that every asset and item acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered to belong to both spouses, jointly owned by the “community” created by their marriage. The only exception is if an asset or item was considered “separate property,” which includes anything acquired before the marriage, or any gifts, inheritances, or awards received throughout the union.
However, a special exception exists for military divorces involving military retirement pay and medical benefits – these are often divided based on different criteria compared to civilians due to the nature of these benefits being designed for those serving on active duty. Military retirements may be given a certain percentage of their former partner's Pension Benefit upon dissolution of their marriage agreement, as well as continued access to medical coverage for up to one year after their divorce. It's important to understand that due to military-specific regulations, this area of copyright law can become complex and require a heightened understanding of legislation relevant to service members and veterans going through divorce proceedings in Texas.Child Custody Determinations
In Texas, child custody determinations are based on "conservatorship" and parents can be designated as either sole managing conservators or joint managing conservators. In this arrangement, a single parent may be granted the sole authority to decide where the child will primarily reside, typically for the majority of their time. The appointment of parents as joint managing conservators is generally considered beneficial for the child, but this belief can be contested if there is evidence of family violence or neglect.
Military parents are not exempt from being appointed as joint managing conservators for their children, as it is assumed to be in the children's best interests. They are eligible for both shared and primary conservatorship. The Texas Family Code § 153.131 sets out clear guidance on determining custodial arrangements. Courts consider any potential prejudice caused by a parent being absent due to military service and take into account custodial preference if any exists on the part of the child involved and their developmental needs at different stages of life. Ultimately, support networks available to both parents are important considerations when determining what might work best for creating successful parenting arrangements while taking into account any special circumstances applicable to military families.Get Help From an Experienced Lawyer in Texas
An experienced family law attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, can help you explain and navigate the entire case process. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.