Once couples reach their breaking points, they often hope that the divorce process will be quick and over with, so that they can move on with their lives. While this is understandable, there may be many challenges and obstacles that arise, slowing down the process of their divorces. One of these challenges may be that one or both spouses are in the military.
Is a military divorce different from a civilian divorce?
A military divorce and a civilian divorce are basically the same. However, there are a few additional requirements when a servicemember is getting a divorce. The federal and state governments have specific laws in place to protect the rights of military personnel and ensure that they will be treated fairly despite being on active duty or deployed. This may complicate and lengthen the duration of the divorce proceedings, but these laws must be upheld as they were created to protect individuals fighting for our country.
How does a military servicemember meet the residency requirement in Texas?
Texas does have a residency requirement when it comes to filing for divorce. Therefore, when couples want to file for divorce in Texas, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months and in the county that they are filing for divorce for at least 90 days.
While you may be worried that you cannot meet the residency requirement while in the military, the good news is that servicemembers are given other options to meet these requirements. Here are a few of the options:
- Texas Code 6.303: The servicemember or their spouse permanently resides in Texas, but they are on deployment or stationed in another state or country.
- Texas Code 6.303: The servicemember or their spouse permanently resides in another state, but they are stationed in Texas temporarily.
- Texas Code 6.304: The servicemember permanently resides in another state but was stationed in Texas temporarily. They deployed from Texas and are still actively serving on this deployment.
If you are in the military and meet any of these options, you can successfully file for divorce in the state of Texas.
How will I be served with divorce papers if I am currently deployed or out of state?
If your spouse has filed for divorce, you must be served with papers. However, in order to be served with papers, they must be handed to you by an individual who has the right to serve these papers. If you are deployed or temporarily stationed out of the state, this may complicate this part of the process.
Civilians have other options when it comes to serving divorce documents. However, military servicemembers must receive these documents in person. Therefore, if you are deployed or temporarily out of state, this may take a long time to successfully do this. The length of time that you should expect is based on factors such as where you are located or deployed. If it is unsafe or completely impossible to serve you the papers, the divorce process may be put on hold until you return.
If you do not want to wait to be served in person, you can sign a waiver. By choosing to sign the waiver, you are stating that you and your spouse agree to the divorce and are proceeding with the divorce process.
What if I am deployed and do not have time to deal with a divorce right now?
Civilians have a specific time limit to respond to divorce papers. After they respond, they will move forward with the divorce process. However, the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was implemented in 2003 to ensure that service members were allowed to focus on their military duties when civil cases emerged. Therefore, if you do not have time to deal with a divorce right now and need to focus on your active-duty responsibilities, you are legally allowed to wait until you return from your deployment.
The SCRA also gives servicemembers the right to postpone their divorce cases for up to 90 days after returning from their deployment. Therefore, all you have to do is let the court know that you wish to do this, and there will be no judgments made against you.
If you decide that you do not need this extra time, you can also choose to waive the SCRA protections. Once you do this, the judge will move forward with your divorce proceedings regardless of if you are deployed or not.
How long will my divorce take if I’m in the military?
The time that a divorce takes depends on various factors. Every couple’s case is unique and different, which means that no two divorces are alike. That said, military divorces can take a lot longer than civilian divorces. The main reason for this is because it takes time to successfully serve the deployed or out-of-state servicemembers with divorce papers. However, once they are served with the papers, they also have the right to postpone the case until after they return from deployment. Since deployment can last “between 90 days and 15 months,” a military divorce can take longer than this if they choose to postpone.
If you or your spouse are in the military and want to file for divorce, our San Antonio divorce lawyers at Grable Grimshaw PLLC are here to assist you. Our team helps clients who are in the Marines, Coast Guard, Navy, Army, and Air Force, and we will gladly help you as well.
Call our office or complete our contact form to speak with one of our military divorce lawyers as soon as possible. We will guide you through this difficult process and ensure that your rights and interests remain protected.