A Military Wife's Rights in a Texas Divorce

By Heather Frances J.D.

Divorce is rarely easy and the unique nature of military life can make a divorce more complicated for military wives. Servicemembers and their spouses must get divorced in state court just as civilians do. Thus, Texas rules apply to military couples divorcing in Texas. However, federal laws provide additional rules for divorces involving military members and their wives.

Divorce is rarely easy and the unique nature of military life can make a divorce more complicated for military wives. Servicemembers and their spouses must get divorced in state court just as civilians do. Thus, Texas rules apply to military couples divorcing in Texas. However, federal laws provide additional rules for divorces involving military members and their wives.

Residency and Service

To file for divorce in Texas, you or your spouse must live in the state for at least six months and the county where you plan to file for at least 90 days. If you file for divorce, you must serve your spouse with copies of the divorce paperwork before the case can proceed. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a federal law, gives him extra time to respond to the divorce proceedings if his military duty interferes with his ability to defend himself in the divorce case. For example, if he is unable to attend a hearing because he is deployed, he can request a stay, or postponement, of the divorce proceedings. SCRA entitles service members to an automatic 90-day stay, but the judge can extend the stay for longer.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Property Distribution

Texas is a community property state, so the court will distribute your property according to community property rules. Generally, courts consider as community property all assets acquired by spouses during the course of marriage -- no matter whose name is on the title to those assets -- except assets acquired by gift or inheritance. For example, if your spouse uses money from his wages to buy a vehicle during your marriage, that vehicle is considered community property, even if your name is not on the title. In Texas, courts divide community property in a manner that is "just and right," which does not necessarily mean equal.

Military Retirement and Benefits

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act permits courts to divide a servicemember's retirement pay according to state law, so Texas courts can divide your spouse's military pension even if he is not yet receiving retirement pay. You do not have to be married for any minimum length of time to receive a portion of his military pension. However, to receive direct payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, you must have been married to him for at least 10 years and at least 10 years of your marriage must overlap with his military service. USFSPA also dictates how long you must be married before you can continue to receive military benefits after your divorce. Generally, you must be married for at least 20 years, during which your spouse served at least 20 years, to continue receiving health insurance and other benefits.

Child Support

Texas follows a percentage of income model for assessing child support, which means Texas courts require the noncustodial parent to pay a certain percentage of his income toward the child's care. Texas law bases the required percentage on the number of children the paying parent supports, from 20 percent for one child to 40 percent for five children. Though Texas courts can deviate from the standard percentages, federal law prohibits states from withholding more than 60 percent of a parent's income for child support. This amount lowers to 50 percent if he supports other dependents.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Federal Laws on Divorce While on Military Active Duty

References

Related articles

Military Divorce Benefits When Married Less Than 10 Years

Losing access to military benefits can be one of the most difficult financial hits a non-military spouse faces in divorce. The applicable federal law, called the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act -- known as the USFSPA -- addresses the circumstances under which a non-military spouse can keep military benefits. Generally, spouses do not receive any military benefits for marriages less than 20 years.

Information on Getting Divorced While in the Marine Corps

Like civilians, Marines get divorced. But only civilian courts can grant divorce petitions, and the divorce process is generally the same for civilians and Marines. But the issues a Marine faces when divorcing can be more complicated than those in a civilian divorce, including finding the correct divorce court and figuring out what benefits the non-military spouse retains after the divorce. Both state and federal laws help sort these issues out.

Divorce Laws for Army Members Stationed in Washington State

When a divorce involves military members, a combination of both state and federal laws apply, which can complicate matters. However, state courts, not military courts, actually grant the divorce. Military members and their spouses can divorce under Washington’s laws like other Washington couples, but some aspects of the divorce are slightly different due to a spouse’s military status.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Military Guidelines for Paying Child Support

Child support guidelines vary among states -- and these laws apply to members of the military, who must divorce in ...

Spouse's Rights to Military Benefits

As a civilian spouse, your military benefits are typically based on your marital status and a divorce may mean losing ...

North Carolina Statute for a Divorced Spouse's Entitlement to a Military Pension

Your divorce decree will divide many different types of property – real estate, personal property and money. If ...

Divorce for Military Members

Just like civilians, military members must get divorced by state courts rather than military courts. However, unique ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED