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How do I handle this military divorce?

Divorce is rarely easy, but for military families in Texas, the process can be even more difficult. As an active duty service member, you understand that your obligations to the military may play a role in the divorce proceedings, affecting the outcome of everything from asset division to child custody. However, these effects do not have to be negative ones.

Like with all divorces, you can work towards securing the most agreeable outcome possible by maintaining a careful attention to detail. This includes understanding that residency affects where you can file, your military benefits and more.

Where do I file for divorce?

Most people do not need to ask this question. If you are stationed somewhere other than your state of residency, you may be understandably confused about taking this initial step. Here are a few things to take into account:

  • Which state you are currently stationed
  • Which state you claim legal residency
  • Which state the person filing resides

In general, you can choose from up to three states based on these options. This is not a light decision to make either because whichever state you file in will determine things like property division, child support and custody matters. Since you are in the unique position of serving in the military, you will want to make sure that state laws align with your family's needs.

Will I lose my military benefits?

On the civilian side of things, retirement benefits are usually -- although not always -- considered marital property and subject to property division. Military pensions are no different, and according to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, state courts can treat your military retirement as either marital or separate property.

If you were married for at least 10 years of your military service, the 10/10 rule applies. Under this rule, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will pay your ex's portion of retirement benefits directly to them. This means that you will not be responsible for ensuring that your ex-spouse gets their portion of the retirement.

Military divorce is complicated

Depending on how long you were married, the length of your service and the overlap between these two, your ex could even retain his or her privileges to access the commissary and exchange. More importantly, he or she may even qualify for continued full medical coverage. However, navigating the complicated requirements for figuring out exactly who qualifies for what is not easy.

You already have enough on your plate with your military service and now a divorce, but you do not have to handle everything alone. An attorney who is well-versed in Texas family law and military divorce can usually provide essential guidance as you work towards reaching the best divorce settlement possible.

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