Special Considerations for Texas Military Members Contemplating Divorce


1. Where do you file? If you are a service member and are contemplating a divorce while living in another country or state, there are a few questions to ask. First, what is your current home of record? If your home of record is Texas and you don’t have kids, you will be able to file for divorce in the city and state of your home of record because you are absent from this state on public service. Second, are there children of the marriage? If so, the place of filing would be contingent upon where the child has resided over the last six months or more. For the service member, this can complicate matters substantially. For example, If you have had a Permanent Change of Duty station to another country, under the jurisdictional statutes of Texas (and most other states in the U.S.), that country will be treated as a state and you will be required to pursue your case in the jurisdiction of that country. By the same context, if the children have resided in another state that is not your home of record, that state would likely have jurisdiction over the divorce or child custody matter. There are a number of other issues that may involve where you can file, so make sure you ask questions. 2. If divorcing with kids, where you are and where you are going to be – matter. Texas Courts make child custody decisions based on a “best interest” standard and it’s public policy is “frequent and continuing contact with both biological parents”. So, the first consideration is who the child or children are going to primarily reside with. This is likely going to be the person that has been the primary caretaker (i.e., the parent that takes the child to the doctor, spends the majority of the time with the child, etc.). The next question is how and what type of access will the other parent have? Given the above, the court order should provide as much possession and access to the non- custodial parent, while taking into consideration time and costs related to transporting the child or children. Many courts will reduce child support owed by a noncustodial to account for the increased costs of transporting the child, etc. Complications arise because military members are transitory. So, the court order should contemplate the possibility of another permanent change of station. This sometimes proves to be difficult when parents reside over 5000 miles away from each other and it necessarily means that one parent is not going to have a lot of extended periods of time with their child. 3. Don’t forget – You have rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. If you are called to active duty and you have been served with divorce papers, you have additional rights that you should be aware of. The Act covers the following individuals: a.) Active-duty members of the regular force; b.) members of the National Guard (active-duty and serving under federal orders); c.) member of the reserve called to active-duty; and d.) members of the Coast Guard (when serving active duty to support the armed forces. The Act allows you to get an automatic stay for 90 days if you request this protection in writing and/or it also allows you to get a stay or postponement of a court or administrative proceeding as long as you can show that your military service affects your ability to proceed in the case. So, if you have been served with a divorce proceeding and there is a request that you appear in court, you have a right to invoke your rights under the SRCA to postpone the hearing.

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