Divorce is never easy. It can be even more complicated if one or more of the spouses is an active duty member of the military. If you are contemplating a divorce, you may have questions about how your or your spouse’s military status may impact issues such as jurisdiction, alimony, equitable division of assets, or child custody.
First, you should know that there are residency requirements in Texas in order to file for divorce that could be complicated by frequent moves for military personnel. Texas is also a community property state, which will influence what each party gets out of their marital assets, including military benefits. Child custody decisions may be influenced by either parent’s deployment status. However, deployment will not force a spouse into a default judgement for failing to appear in court for a divorce. No matter what your concerns may be, you do not want to go into a divorce proceeding without legal help.
The experienced Dallas military divorce lawyers at the Queenan Law Firm are ready and willing to assist you with the complexities of your divorce filing. Call us for a free consultation today at (817) 476-1797.
Filing for Divorce in Dallas While One Spouse is Deployed Overseas
Timelines for legal proceedings where an active-duty servicemember is involved are complicated. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was enacted to protect those serving their country abroad from facing default judgements while overseas. The SCRA will typically pause court proceedings like divorces if one of the parties is deployed overseas and cannot respond to a summons. However, these pauses are not indefinite. You should speak to a Dallas military divorce lawyer about how long your case may be stalled under the SCRA.
Residency Requirements for Military Divorces in Dallas
Divorce filings in Texas may only occur once one of the spouses involved has resided in the State of Texas for six consecutive months. Further, the spouse must have been a resident of the county in which the divorce is filed for 90 consecutive days. This is true for all divorce cases, regardless of military status.
The requirement only extends to one of the two spouses. No matter which spouse meets the residency requirements, either spouse may file for divorce in the appropriate county once the residency requirements are met. Residency on a military base in Dallas is enough to satisfy the statutory requirements.
For questions on how your deployment affects residency requirements or changes which county you should file in, speak to one of our Dallas military divorce lawyers today.
Equitable Division of Assets in a Military Divorce in Dallas
Division of marital property can be an emotional and complicated undertaking in Texas. If you cannot agree amicably on an equitable division, the court will decide for you. Court decisions on asset division are largely subjective and are difficult to predict without all of the information on the specific case. If you are curious, it is worth your time to bring your case to a Dallas military divorce lawyer for a full assessment.
Texas is a community property state. In other words, all assets that the couple acquires during marriage should be divided upon divorce. Specifically, Texas law dictates that the distribution be “just and right” based on the circumstances and whether children are involved. What this means in each case can depend on the judge as well as the personal circumstances of the parties involved.
One sort of asset that may prove complicated in an equitable division is military benefits. Pensions and medical benefits may be viewed under federal law as property rather than income. As such, they may be included in an equitable division. Non-military spouses may only have access to their military spouse’s benefits after being married for a certain length of time. For more information on how military benefits may impact your asset division in a divorce in Dallas, talk to a Dallas military divorce attorney today.
Child Custody in Military Divorces in Dallas
Texas law distinguishes child custody decisions along the lines of “possession” (or physical custody of the child) and “conservatorship” (or legal custody). Most Texas courts will attempt to award joint custody to both parents where reasonable, assuming the health and safety of the child is not at issue.
However, if one spouse is actively deployed or must be overseas frequently, courts may award possession of the child to the spouse that remains in Texas. The deployed spouse may retain a joint conservatorship over the child so that they may still have an active role in the critical decisions of child upbringing (e.g., education choices, religious upbringing, and medical decisions).
Just because you are currently deployed does not mean that you will never be able to enjoy time with your child. Custody decisions in Texas are amendable when circumstances change. For instance, if the court awarded sole physical custody to one parent at a time when the other parent was deployed, but the deployed parent later retires from military service and moves back to Texas permanently, the parents may agree to amend the custody arrangement or petition the court to amend their original decision under the changed circumstances.
Parents who do not have possession of the child are often ordered to pay child support. These funds are meant to contribute to the cost of child-rearing that the parent with possession bears.
If you are contemplating a military divorce in Dallas and have concerns about child custody arrangements, speak to a Dallas military divorce lawyer immediately.
Get the Legal Help You Need for Your Dallas Military Divorce Today
The Queenan Law Firm respects the complications that come with a military divorce. Our experienced Dallas military divorce lawyers have your best interests at heart. For a free consultation on your case and our services, call us today at (817) 476-1797.