Texas is home to thousands of active armed service members, many of whom are married. Military life can make sustaining a relationship difficult, and many marriages in which one or both spouses are in the military ultimately end in divorce. In Texas, divorces involving members of the military differ from dissolution actions involving two civilians in numerous ways, and it is critical for anyone interested in obtaining a military divorce to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Dallas divorce lawyers of McClure Law Group are skilled at navigating the complexities that arise when a service member’s marriage ends, and if you hire us, we will work diligently to help you protect your interests.Residency Requirements in Military Divorces
The Texas Family Code (the “Code”) provides that a court cannot exercise jurisdiction over a divorce suit unless, at the time a suit for divorce is filed, either the filing party or his or her spouse lived in Texas for the prior six months and in the county where the action is filed for the previous ninety days.
Under the Code, there are two different ways active service members can meet the residency requirements. Specifically, the Code states that, if armed service members who reside in Texas are stationed outside of the state, they will be deemed residents of Texas and the county in which they usually live. Texas residents accompanying service member spouses stationed outside of Texas are granted the same considerations with regard to residency. Additionally, people who are not residents of Texas, but currently live here because they or their spouses are on a service assignment, will be considered residents of Texas for the purposes of filing a divorce action, as long as they live in the state and county for the applicable time periods.Serving Divorce Papers on a Deployed Member of the Armed Services
In a typical Texas divorce action, after the petitioner files and serves on their spouse a petition for divorce, the responding party must file an answer by the Monday that follows the twentieth day after service. If a party fails to file an answer by the deadline, the court may enter a default judgment, effectively granting the petitioner the relief requested (although evidence must still be presented to support the petitioner’s requests). When the responding party is an active member of the military, though, different rules apply. More specifically, pursuant to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”), active members of the military can obtain a stay of proceedings for up to ninety days after they return from active duty. The SCRA also prohibits courts from entering default judgments against active duty service members.Property Division in Military Divorces
The Code defines how property should be divided in Texas divorces. Under the Code, spouses retain their separate property. Any community property, which is generally property acquired during the marriage that is not specifically identified as separate property, will be divided in a manner the court deems just and right. Generally, Texas courts distribute property in divorce actions in accordance with the Code, regardless of whether the divorcing parties are civilians or members of the military.
Military spouses may be able to retain their health benefits after a divorce in certain circumstances. Specifically, under the 20/20/20 rule of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (“USFSPA”), if a couple was married for twenty years, the military spouse actively served for at least twenty years, and the time in service and the marriage overlapped for a minimum of twenty years, the non-military spouse is entitled to military health insurance and other benefits.Meet With a Trusted Dallas Lawyer
While divorce can be difficult under any circumstances, military divorces are often more legally complicated than divorces involving civilians. The Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group are mindful of the issues that can arise in military divorces, and if you engage our services, we will craft persuasive arguments on your behalf to help you seek your desired result. Our main office is in Dallas, and we are available to meet by appointment at our Collin-County office in Plano. We regularly represent people in military divorce actions in Dallas, Frisco, Fort Worth, Irving, McKinney, Richardson, Rockwall, and Garland. Additionally, we help people with family-law issues in cities in Dallas, Rockwall, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, and Grayson Counties. You can reach us through our online form or by calling 214.692.8200 to set up a conference.