Military Divorce Attorney
Military divorce is a complex and emotionally challenging process, and it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel who understands the unique challenges faced by military members and their families.
A good attorney can provide invaluable assistance navigating the complexities of military divorce law, helping you to make informed decisions that are in your best interests. With this in mind, here is an overview of what you need to know when considering hiring a military divorce attorney – from understanding the differences between civilian and military divorces to questions you should ask during your consultation.
Military Divorce Attorneys serving Denton, Dallas, Collin, and Tarrant Counties and the cities of Allen, Argyle, Carrollton, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Denton, Denton, Flower Mound, Frisco, Grapevine, Irving, Keller, Lake Dallas, Lewisville, Little Elm, Mckinney, Plano, Prosper, Roanoke, Southlake, and The Colony.
Texas Military Divorce Attorneys
A military divorce attorney is essential for any military couple considering a divorce. A military divorce requires an understanding of the unique legal challenges facing service members and their families, as well as the relevant laws, regulations, and procedures involved.
Military divorces are often more complicated than civilian divorces due to the fact that service members may have access to certain benefits that are not available to civilians. Additionally, military divorce law can be complicated, and without the help of an experienced attorney, it can be difficult for individuals to understand their rights and obligations under the law.
Understanding Everything Involved with Military Divorce
When it comes to the legal aspects of divorce, military personnel and their spouses are no exception. However, there may be specific factors that set them apart from any other divorcing couple. Regardless, the procedures for a military-related divorce are generally similar to those of standard divorces. If you or your spouse is in active service or has been discharged recently, consider exploring how these differences may affect your case.
For example, the whole process can take longer if one of you is serving in a foreign and distant place. To make things more convenient for active duty service personnel who are seeking divorce, some states have lowered their residency requirements.
In addition to understanding the common divorce proceedings, military couples should be mindful of how the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act can affect their situation. The USFSPA is a federal statute that provides guidance for military personnel regarding topics such as spousal support, child support, and pension/retirement pay from the armed services. States have always had the power to treat retirement plans similarly to any other marital asset; however, with the passing of this act states are now allowed to classify retired benefits from the army as property instead of income.
Your rights as a service member
Through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, service members on active duty have their legal rights safeguarded. Generally speaking, when one spouse issues divorce papers to the other they must reply within a specified time period. Moreover, the SCRA provides that:
- If a service member can prove that they are unable to attend civil court or administrative proceedings due to their military obligations, the duration may be extended.
- In specific circumstances, service members may be shielded from default judgments due to their inability to respond to a lawsuit or present in court.
Military legal assistance attorneys are exceptional resources to consult when seeking a divorce, as all communication you have with them is confidential. Moreover, they can even provide referrals to civilian lawyer referral services outside of the government sphere.
Your rights as a divorced military spouse
If you face a divorce or legal separation situation that necessitates representation in civil court, or comes with contested issues like child custody, spousal/child support, or asset division, it is best to speak with an experienced lawyer.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a federal law that grants certain advantages to ex-partners of military personnel. These benefits are designed to ensure the security and well-being of former spouses who have been impacted by their loved one’s service in the armed forces. Former spouses who do not remarry may receive medical, commissary, exchange, and movie theater privileges under the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program, along with other benefits, if they meet the requirements of what is known as the 20/20/20 rule:
- To be eligible for the former spouse pension benefit, one must have been married to a military member for 20 years or more at the time of divorce, dissolution, or annulment.
- The military member needs to have served a minimum of 20 years of service that is creditable in determining eligibility for retired pay (the member does not have to be retired from active duty).
- The former spouse was married to the member during at least 20 years of the member’s retirement-creditable service.
How is divorce different for active duty service members?
When divorcing an active-duty service member, it is imperative to understand that the papers must be personally served. Alternate forms of process service are not acceptable in this case. It’s also important to note that if a spouse is stationed abroad or deployed when being served with divorce documents, the timeline for proceedings may be lengthened. Furthermore, under the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), those on active duty have 90 days more than usual to respond and can ask the court for additional time due deployment considerations.
What to know about divorce overseas
When it comes to dissolving a marriage in another country, the intricacies of filing can be overwhelming and foreign courts may not mutually accept divorce decrees. To avoid unnecessary complications, your best bet is to file for divorce here in the United States.
Service members and their spouses can lawfully file for divorce in the military member’s home state, where they are currently stationed, or within the jurisdiction of residence of their nonmilitary partner.
When filing for divorce while residing abroad, here are some key points to consider:
- If you possess property overseas, it is highly recommended to have a conversation with an experienced civilian attorney or someone from the military Legal Assistance Office.
- Prior to a service member’s tour completion, the government provides reimbursement for bringing family members and their possessions home.
I’m in the middle of a deployment. How do I handle my divorce?
How contented or hostile your divorce could be is a major factor to take into consideration, but it also depends on how secure you are in managing your separation from afar.
Should you be of the opinion that it is to your benefit to remain in the same city as your spouse during divorce proceedings, then you can turn to the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) for assistance. This provision provides you with an additional ninety days to attend the hearing regarding your divorce, and to notify the judge of any active-duty deployment that could postpone proceedings until after you have returned from said deployment. If a divorce is expected to be contentious, the SCRA may be your best avenue. As temporary orders can be set by judges, nothing will become final until an official court hearing takes place – which in most cases cannot occur over telephone calls.
If your divorce is likely to be amicable, allowing you and your spouse to come to a consensus on all the issues, then perhaps it’s best for both of you if the attorneys manage everything from afar. This way scanned documents can quickly be signed via email and sent back whenever needed.
Which state will process my divorce, if my spouse is in a different state?
If you’re considering filing for divorce in Texas, one of the spouses must have been a legal resident of the state and county where proceedings will take place for at least six months. This time frame is critical to ensure that all paperwork and filings are conducted properly.
If you are a member of the military, you have the right to file for divorce in Texas if either you or your partner is stationed in the state or deployed from there. It doesn’t matter where else they live; as long as one person fulfills all necessary qualifications to submit an application for divorce in Texas, then it is possible.
How is Property Division Handled in a Military Divorce?
Generally, the division of assets in a military divorce is the same as it would be in any other type of divorce. In Texas specifically, if you can prove that an asset was held separately from your spouse at any time during the marriage, then it will likely not be subject to division.
When couples file for divorce, the court will divide their community property such as real estate, automobiles, and bank accounts unless they can reach an agreement on how to split them. Military divorces are unique though; in these cases, there is a separate procedure when it comes to splitting up military retirement benefits and health insurance coverage.
How will a divorce affect my military benefits?
As an active-duty service member, you will retain all of your benefits without any change or disruption.
If you are married to an active-duty service member, certain benefits such as TRICARE coverage, access to the commissary, and possession of your military ID may be denied. Fortunately, there is a caveat: The 20/20/20 rule can grant eligibility for these privileges in some circumstances.
Your or your spouse’s military retirement is classified as marital property, meaning it can be divided during a divorce. To ensure you safeguard your assets in the best possible way, enlisting the help of an experienced lawyer specializing in divorce would be advisable.
Division of Military Retirement and Disability Pay
Military divorces necessitate the expertise of an attorney who can expertly navigate military law. One of the most intricate elements in a divorce involving service members is retirement and disability pay, so it’s vital to find someone who understands this matter thoroughly.
Military retired pay is typically shared during divorce proceedings. However, certain benefits such as VA disability compensation, military disability retirement allowances, Special Combat-Related Compensation (SCRC), and Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) do not have to be divided among the parties involved. If a service member decides to take disability compensation, it will most likely involve forgoing the same amount of their retired pay. Thus, this may lead to considerably shrinking or even eradicating the pension funds that would normally be available to the spouse in retirement.
Unlike the dollar-for-dollar waivers of other benefits, Special Combat-Related Compensation and Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay does not necessitate the same waiver. To qualify for Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay and Special Combat-Related Compensation, the service member must meet certain criteria. For example, if a service member has been given a disability rating of 30%, but it is not combat-related in nature, then they will, unfortunately, be ineligible for either program.
If you are facing the complexities of a military divorce, it is essential that your attorney be experienced in managing these unique issues and able to create a decree which will recognize them.
Why would I hire a civilian lawyer for my military divorce?
Active-duty personnel or a military spouse can take advantage of Military legal counsel, however, it is limited in scope. Representation during divorce proceedings will not be included and is not available for veterans or the spouses of veterans.
Regardless of whether any of the divorce proceedings fall outside of military protocol, your dissolution will take place in a civilian court.
Whatever you do, don’t attempt to handle your divorce without the help of an attorney. Whether you are initiating or receiving the papers, it’s essential that you obtain legal representation from a lawyer who specializes in military divorces and is dedicated to safeguarding your interests while preserving your sacrifices and character.
Call Ilarraza Law today at (214) 646-3253 to set up your consultation with a Military Divorce Lawyer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Unless your arrangement outlines something else, DFAS will deduct the cost directly from your retired pay. Since these survivor benefits are for the gain of your previous partner, it’s critical that your divorce decree stipulates she is in charge of paying the expense of those benefits.
It all depends on if your spouse elected a survivor benefit plan with you as the beneficiary. If so, then it’s important to make sure that your divorce decree explicitly requires them to do so – after which time, you would receive 55 percent of their retired pay.
Probably. If your former partner decides to receive disability benefits, it is likely that he must forfeit an equivalent amount of his pension. When it comes to a divorce, disability benefits are typically not divisible, meaning that your portion of the retired pay could be reduced by an equivalent amount. To ensure that your hard-earned portion of his retirement is preserved, make sure the divorce decree includes a clause mandating he repays you for any shrinkage in what is owed to you.
Most likely, no. Much like disability compensation, Special Combat-Related Compensation benefits are typically not divided in a divorce settlement.
Whether civilian or military, child custody, child support, and spousal support matters are all handled identically. Additionally, Texas law provides guidelines to determine the amount of any mandated child support payments.
Nonetheless, the level of support cannot exceed more than 60% of a service member’s compensation.
When formulating a parenting plan, parties should be certain to outline the particulars of custody and conservatorship, along with arranging for visitation. If there’s potential for deployment in the service member’s future, it is essential to factor this into provisions as well.
It is possible. To protect your rights while you are away, it is essential that the language in your divorce decree make clear that deployment will not be considered a valid reason for altering custody arrangements during this time.
The DFAS will only grant you direct payments for your share of spousal pay if all three conditions are met: your spouse must have served in the military for at least 10 years, you must have been married to each other during that same time frame, and at least ten years of marriage should overlap this decade-long service.
However, this only applies to direct payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). If you don’t meet the “10/10/10” rule, your ex-spouse can still provide you with a portion of their retired pay as part of the divorce settlement.
Generally speaking, your answer is no. However, you could be eligible to receive half of the marital share of his retirement benefits that were earned during your marriage together.
Whether or not disability compensation is included as income for the purposes of calculating child support, will vary depending on your local laws. However, typically speaking it is indeed taken into account when making these determinations.
It all comes down to how your military retired pay division order is worded. If it specifies a set dollar amount, you won’t be receiving cost-of-living adjustments in addition. If you are granted a certain portion of their retired pay, then cost-of-living adjustments will be applied to your payments. These adjustments can give you the potential for hundreds more dollars per month in additional income. Ensure that your divorce decree and retired pay division order allows for cost-of-living adjustments to be made, as these will benefit you in the long run.