Military Divorce Attorney in Corpus Christi, Texas
Texas is home to many military service members and their families. If you count yourself among them, you know firsthand how difficult it is to balance military and family life. The time apart, frequent transfers, and long work hours are just some of the challenges that can put immense strain on a military marriage.
If you are an active-duty or retired-military service member or the spouse of a service member and are considering a divorce, it is advisable to seek assistance from a qualified military divorce attorney.
Military divorce differs from civilian divorce in significant ways, and it’s crucial to have someone by your side to help you navigate the complex state and federal laws that govern the process.
At the Bourlon Law Firm, Attorney Bourlon can help you understand how these laws affect you and make sure the necessary steps are taken to protect your interests.
Call 361-289-6040 or fill out the form below to schedule a Free, no obligation consultation
Bourlon Law Firm is well-equipped to effectively handle all matters pertaining to military divorce, including but not limited to:
- Determining jurisdiction of the court
- Your right to protection in divorce proceedings under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
- Protecting benefits for a former military spouse based on length of service and marriage
- Property division of military retirement benefits and pensions based on the Uniformed Services Former Spousal Protection Act
- Calculating child support obligations using a Leave and Earnings statement
- Establishing child visitation and parenting time
Establishing Residency and Jurisdiction in Texas
Before filing for a military divorce in Texas, certain residency requirements must be met to establish which court will have jurisdiction over the divorce.
You or your spouse must have a.) lived in Texas for six months prior to filing and b.) lived in the county of filing for three months.
If you are a service member who previously lived in another state but has been stationed in Texas for at least six months prior to filing and have been stationed in the same county of the filing for at least three months, then you can be considered a resident of Texas for the purpose of filing for divorce in Texas.
Deployed And Getting A Divorce?
If you have been served with divorce papers while on active duty, don’t panic. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) makes it possible for you to ask the judge for a 90 day extension to file a response.
As your attorney, I can help notify the court of your active duty status and submit the necessary paperwork to obtain the postponement. If your deployment exceeds 90 days, we can petition the court for additional time.
How Are Military Retirement Benefits Divided in Texas?
The most sought after asset in a military divorce is the military pension. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) governs the division and distribution of military retired pay in a divorce.
This federal law authorizes state courts to treat military retired pay as a marital asset or community property, not as income.
In a Texas military divorce, marital assets acquired during the marriage are considered to be joint community property and are subject to fair and equitable (not necessarily equal) distribution in a divorce.
This means that the non-military spouse is equally entitled to receive a portion of the service member’s retirement benefits.
Eligibility for Direct Pay From The Defense Finance and Accounting Service
Under the 10-10 rule, a former spouse of a military member can receive direct pension payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) if:
- The marriage with the military member lasted at least 10 years;
- The military member performed at least 10 years of service creditable for retirement pay; and
- There was at least a 10 year overlap of the marriage and military service
If the “10-10 test” is not met, that does not automatically mean you are not entitled to the pension. It just means the military spouse would be responsible for making the monthly payments instead of the DFAS.
Eligibility for Healthcare, Commissary and Exchange Benefits
Under the 20-20 rule, a former spouse of a military member will receive full benefits, typically including medical, commissary, and exchange benefits if:
- The marriage with the military member lasted at least 20 years;
- The military member performed at least 20 years of service creditable for retirement pay; and
- There was at least a 20 year overlap of the marriage and military service
In the event that you cannot qualify under the “20/20/20 Rule,” you may still be eligible to one year of transitional military benefits for purposes of receiving military medical care under the 20/20/15 rule:
- The service member performed at least 20 years of creditable service;
- The marriage lasted at least 20 years;
- The period of the marriage overlapped the period of service by at least 15 years.
Impact of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act on Survivor Benefit Plan
Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, a former spouse can be designated as a Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiary.
The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) is an annuity that allows retired service members to provide continued income to a named beneficiary in the event of the retiree’s death.
A former spouse is not eligible for SBP coverage after a divorce. However, coverage may continue if there is an honorable agreement between the parties or to comply with a court order. If this turns out to be the case, the retiree must make a “former spouse SBP election” with DFAS within 1 year of the date of divorce in order for the former spouse coverage to be implemented.
In turn, the former spouse must also make a “deemed election” within 1 year of the divorce, but only if the retiree elected SBP coverage when he/she first became eligible to do so.
Child Custody And Visitation
Parents in the military know all too well the unfortunate reality of being away from their kids for significant periods of time. Frequent deployments, irregular schedules, and relocations can all impact child custody/conservatorship and visitation arrangements.
To deal with these unique challenges, it’s important for you and your spouse to develop custody plans that have built in provisions to deal with reassignments and deployment.
When parents are willing to cooperate, most divorce courts are open to creative custody and visitation schedules.
At Bourlon Law firm, we have extensive experience helping divorcing couples build family care plans to reach consensus. If for some reason the custody negotiations become acrimonious, we will vigorously advocate on your behalf in court.
Developing A Military Family Care Plan
The Texas Family Code highly recommends that divorcing parents create a Family Care Plan to define how they will divide parenting responsibilities and provide overall care for the children.
Family care plans are especially valuable for military parents because it helps to put specific plans in place in the event that a service member has to be deployed.
Some of the issues outlined in a military family care plan may include:
- Who will provide care for the service member’s children in the event of his or her absence
- Who shall have short term custody in the event of a no-notice deployment
- Who shall have long term custody if it becomes necessary
- Visitation schedules for the non-custodial spouse
- Steps that will be taken to restore original custody rights to military parents returning from transfer or deployment.
- Information about how any children will be supported financially during the service member’s absence
When drafting a visitation schedule for the children, you should include a local schedule and an out of state schedule.
If you and your spouse live in the same area and communicate well with one another, you can have a flexible arrangement that allows the children to spend time with both of you. For a more structured visitation schedule, the non-custodial parent would have possession of the child according to specific dates/times.
An out of state schedule is needed when the military parent has been relocated. In this case, an agreement can be made to visit during certain holidays or over summer vacation.
If the military parent is unable to adhere to the visitation schedule due to an unexpected event such as overseas deployment, the military parent may ask the court to assign their visitation hours to the child’s aunts, uncles, or grandparents, etc.
If at any time your circumstances change and you or your spouse would like to modify the custody or visitation agreements, Bourlon Law can help you accomplish this.
Child support is usually calculated based on the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of minor children that the non-custodial parent may have to pay child support for.
The income that is factored into the calculation includes all of the nontaxable allowances and benefits that appear on your Leave and Earnings Statement:
- basic allowance for housing (BAH)
- subsistence pay (BAS)
- overseas pay
- specialty pay
- combat zone exclusions
- submarine pay
The federal government restricts the amount courts may garnish from a military spouse’s paycheck to 60 percent of his/her military pay for child support purposes. The limit is 50 percent if the military member has other dependents.
Whether you are a member of the military or a military spouse, Mr. Bourlon can help protect your rights in a military divorce.