The process of getting a divorce can be confusing and complex, especially when one or both spouses are active-duty military personnel, reservists or members of the National Guard.
Therefore, federal law and the state of Texas have specific processes, procedures and considerations for service members and their spouses seeking to go their separate ways.
Texas residency requirements
Due to out-of-state training, deployments and frequent moves, some military couples may not have lived in a state long enough to establish residency. To file for divorce, the active-duty member’s station must be in Texas, and at least one of the parties must reside in the state for at least six months prior to filing.
Protections for service members
To prevent a party from divorcing a military member on active-duty orders without notification, certain legal protections are in place. In Texas, any party wishing to divorce a member of the armed services must have their spouse served in person. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, courts may postpone divorce proceedings during deployments and up to 60 days after service members return to protect them from unknown filings as well as adverse legal and financial consequences.
Texas is a community property state. However, in military divorce cases, courts defer to the federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, which governs the division of military retirement benefits. Under the USFSPA, a spouse married to a service member for at least ten years can receive partial benefits payments. Additionally, a military marriage lasting 20 years entitles a spouse to continued health care coverage.
If you are seeking a military divorce, it is important to know and understand your rights as well as the process in the Texas family court system.