Life in the military can strain a marriage, and sustaining a healthy relationship takes hard work but is achievable. Still, many spouses succumb to the pressures of military life immediately or over time.
Those who choose divorce find that dissolving a military marriage also poses significant challenges.
Civilian spouses face challenges serving divorce papers to spouses who are on deployment. Also, they can expect additional delays because court hearings will not happen during a spouse’s deployment to minimize distractions that conflict with military obligations.
Texas law has a six-month residency requirement for filing a divorce petition. However, the law waives part of the requirement for military couples who do not live in one place long enough or reside in separate states. For example, divorcing military couples can fulfill the residency requirement even if the service member living temporarily in Texas is away on deployment.
Texas courts consider the most beneficial arrangement for children when determining physical custody in divorce cases and usually lean favorably toward civilian parents who typically provide more stable environments. However, active-duty personnel can retain physical child custody but must complete annual family care plans naming a court-approved temporary caregiver during their deployments. Still, these arrangements are complex because they involve ongoing changes to custody arrangements.
Marital property in Texas is communal and subject to equitable distribution laws, except for some benefits, including military pensions. For example, federal law states that when a military marriage lasts at least 10 years with one spouse on active duty for at least 10 years, the non-serving spouse may receive a portion of the service member’s military pension in the divorce settlement.
Military divorces are complex because they follow specific rules to protect service members and their civilian spouses.