You or your spouse’s service in the military can affect your ability to get a divorce in the State of Texas. Every military member has a home state and that state will maintain jurisdiction to hear your divorce case. So if San Antonio, Bexar County Texas is your home state and you or your spouse is assigned to another state or county you can still get divorced in Texas.
If you or your spouse has lived in Texas for six months then even though another state may be the home state, you will be able to get divorced in Texas.
Once you have determined the proper place to get divorced, then you need to consider how military service will affect your divorce process. The most important financial issue to most military families is the military retirement system. Many people think that a marriage of less than 10 years means the non-military spouse cannot touch the military retirement. This is simply not true.
In a marriage where the time of the marriage overlaps the military service for less than ten years the non-military spouse can be awarded a portion of the retirement when it is received, but DFAS will not send a separate check to the non-military spouse.
In a marriage where the time of the marriage overlaps the military service for at least ten years, DFAS will send the non-military spouse a separate check.
In a marriage where the time of the marriage overlaps the military service for at least fifteen years the non-military spouse is entitled to one year of military health care as well as a separate check.
In a marriage where the time of the marriage overlaps the military service for a least twenty years the non-military spouse is entitled to a separate check, and to keep military health care as well as commissary and PX privileges.
The exact amount the non-military spouse is entitled to receive will vary according to the individual circumstances in each case. But as an example, if a military member retires after exactly twenty years and the marriage overlaps the service for exactly ten years the non-military spouse would be entitled to receive twenty-five percent (25%) of the retirement. If the marriage overlaps the entire time of military service the non-military spouse would be entitled to receive fifty percent (50%) of the military retirement.
Military service raises some special issues concerning the children of the marriage. It is an undisputed fact that military members are subject to permanent change of station (PCS) from time to time and also may be sent on Temporary Duty (TDY) or may be deployed. If the parents divorce then not only is the issue of which parent the child(ren) primarily resides with but also what happens to the child when one parent moves. The Family Code in Texas address the some of these issue, including allowing the military member to designate someone to exercise his/her visitation periods while unable to personally exercise possession of the child due to military deployment. In addition, if the military member is the primary parent of the child, the divorce decree can contain provisions about the other parent becoming temporary primary parent of the child and receiving child support during this time period.
If the military member’s assignments involve moving a considerable distance from the child’s home or the child’s other parent, then provisions need to be considered on how both parents can exercise their periods of possession of the child(ren) are not living near one parent. One way to address this is to make sure provisions for the child to fly between the parent’s homes and who is going to pay for the travel expenses.
Military members may also need to consider the future need for passports for the children as well as electronic communication with their children. Even in a war zone, military members may at times have internet access allowing communication with their children by email, Skype, Facetime, or other electronic means.
The Need for an Experienced Military Divorce Lawyer
Not only do you need a lawyer with the knowledge and experience to handle all of the legal nuances of a military divorce, you also need an attorney who understands that going through a divorce is one of the hardest things a person will ever experience. At a time like this you need the help and wise counsel of a lawyer that cares and understands what you are going through. As your lawyer, I can help you to safe ground, where reasonable decisions can be made in order to expedite this painful process. If you need a skilled military divorce lawyer in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, then call my office for a consolation: (210) 224-8881.