How Does a Military Divorce Differ from a Civilian Divorce?
Ending your marriage can be a complex and emotionally challenging process, forcing you to make difficult decisions about child custody, visitation, support and the allocation of marital debts and assets. When either or both of the parties to a divorce are serving their country as active-duty personnel, the process automatically becomes more difficult and demanding.
How Is a Divorce Involving Military Personnel Treated Differently in Texas?
In any lawsuit, including a petition for divorce, the party initiating the legal action must deliver or “serve” a copy of the complaint to the other party. In most other types of civil litigation, service can be made through a published document, through certified mail or other forms. IN some lawsuits, a defendant can even waive the requirement of service.
With active-duty military personnel, however, the divorce complaint must be personally served on the defendant. That often takes much longer, as a spouse may be stationed in another part of the country or the on the other side of the world.
Furthermore, in most civil matters, the defendant has approximately 30 days to respond to a complaint. However, under the federal Service Members Civil Relief Act, anyone on active duty in the armed forces of the United States has an additional 90 days (beyond the time normally allowed by the court rules) to file an answer. The defendant can also ask the court to suspend any hearings until he or she has returned from deployment.
How Does Residency Affect a Military Divorce?
To file for divorce in Texas, you must meet certain residency requirements:
- You must have lived in the state for at least six months
- You must have been a resident of the county where you file for at least six months
With a military divorce, it is only necessary that one of the parties reside in Texas for six months. The other spouse may reside anywhere.
How Is Custody, Visitation, Support and Property Distribution Treated in a Military Divorce in Texas?
Custody, visitation and support matters are essentially the same in military and non-military divorces in Texas. Most property issues will be resolved in accordance with the community property laws of the Lone Star State. The only difference is with respect to military retirement and health insurance benefits. Whether or not a civilian spouse will have access to those benefits will depend on a variety of factors, including how long the parties were married and how much time the a service member spent on active duty over the course of the marriage.
Contact the Proven Family Law Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we have extensive experience protecting the rights of men and women throughout Texas in all matters related to divorce, including persons serving on active duty with the armed forces of the United States. We offer a free initial consultation to every client. To speak with a compassionate and dedicated divorce and family lawyer, contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.