A military divorce case can be confusing and difficult for you and your family to have any divorce case. Not only are you likely concerned with the same elements of a divorce case that every civilian case has, but there are additional components to a military case that are also on the table for consideration. There are deadlines and other requirements regarding military benefits; they’re not set forth by Texas law but somewhat under the specific federal programs that control the benefits for you, your spouse, and your children. Whether it is retirement benefits or medical care at the question, you and your attorney will need to pay close attention to the deadline isn’t a requirement if you are divorcing a military member.
How will your spouses’ military pension factor into your Texas divorce?
When it comes to dividing up a military pension, you should know several ways to do this. When interviewing attorneys before even beginning your divorce, your attorney must be aware of the uniformed services former spouses protection act. This act allows a family court in Texas to direct a military retirement pay center to divide military retired pay and pay up part of that pension to you only when the order is contained in a final decree of divorce.
Many people who retire from the military will choose to select a survivor benefit plan former spouse covered so that you can have coverage under an annuity after you and your spouse get divorced. For this to come to be, your military spouse who is retiring must select the plan that allows you to have coverage within one year of your final decree of divorce having been signed. Proof of the divorce, including a copy of the last order of divorce from Texas, must be included with their selection. Retirement can offer another deadline for you to be aware of. It sometimes occurs that the military member can divorce you before retirement age. Still, the final divorce decree does not contain any terminology or language that requires your ex-spouse to make an election to allow you to maintain coverage under this annuity.
The key thing to understand in these situations is that you need to watch out for this if you get divorced before retirement age. The trouble comes when a military ruling on these subjects will typically occur after your divorce is already over with the period. As a former military spouse, you may have difficulty receiving the benefits you believed you would be entitled to.
What is the 10/10 rule when it comes to military retirement?
It is probably most preferable for you to receive a garnishment order to obtain monthly payments of your spouse’s military pension from the government directly. This is because your spouse may be moved around from place to place across the country and world after your divorce. The prospects of chasing around your spouse from country to country aren’t all that appealing. Instead, collecting monthly payments directly from the military into your bank account is much easier and cost-effective. In the divorce, you would likely request direct payments from the government rather than having to rely upon your spouse to do anything specifically.
As with anything else related to military retirement pay and divorce, specific deadlines and dates are involved when you, as a former spouse, want to get an order that gives you direct payment from the retirement pay center of the military. Given that Texas is a Community property state, if the military pension is divided between you and your spouse, there have to be at least ten years of marriage that coincides with ten years of military service that counts towards retirement. If there is no overlapping these two ten-year periods, you cannot receive payments directly from the retirement pay center.
An important thing to note is that this rule does not confer jurisdiction on a court or the military for dividing up a military pension. There is no limitation on the number of years your marriage must overlap with military service to divide your spouse’s military retirement. This is a widely held and incorrect belief that many family law attorneys hold. The reality is that your spouse’s military pension can be divided by a Texas family law court whether or not he has been married to you for 20 years or 20 days. The only time that the length of your marriage and your spouse’s military service makes a difference is receiving payment directly from the military retirement pay center. This specific payment method as garnishment of your spouse’s retirement pay is not available to you unless the 10-year requirements for 9th of marriage and military time.
There’s a period where you and your spouse had been separated count towards this 10-year marriage requirement?
This question may not be relevant to you for any of you reading this blog post who have been married for longer than ten years. However, if you are up and married for 8, nine, or close to 10 years, you will want to pay close attention to this information period to be married for ten years and have served in the military for a similar length of time. Specifically, does the date that you and your spouse separated come into play in this regard?
In Texas, there is no such thing as a legal separation. In terms of a military divorce, separation is not usually looked at as the point of ending your marriage for receipt of military retirement benefits. Whether or not the issue is garnishment and the 10-year marriage and 10-year military requirement rule, identification cards, health insurance, both federal and military laws Generally speaking are written with an emphasis on the divorce decree and not the date that you all actually separate.
One area where your date of separation will make a difference is whether or not you will have the ability to take advantage of on-base housing. Once you and your spouse separate military rules, require that you and your family leave any family housing provided by the military, your spouse will then be assigned to accommodations for a single individual. Bear in mind that different rules will apply for Community property acquisition in Texas regarding the date of separation or final decree signage as the end of a marriage.
How does health insurance factor into this discussion?
One of the major concerns for military spouses and their families is receiving health insurance coverage during and after a divorce. Suppose you have been married for 20 years, with 20 years of qualifying service for military retirement and overlap of at least 20 years between these two. In that case, if you remain unmarried, you will qualify for full health insurance coverage. This is a more stringent test to pass than the 10-year requirement for direct payment of military retirement benefits. If you have not remarried before you reach age 55, you will be eligible for coverage if you pay a certain premium and receive military retirement at the same time. I think it is a good idea for you to be able to receive both of these.
Do you position yourself to receive military benefits during and after a divorce?
One of the significant concerns that many military spouses have in considering a divorce is determining whether or not they and their children will continue to receive benefits from the military after the divorce. You and your children need health insurance for routine medical checkups and more emergency circumstances in the immediate sense. Additionally, you may have legitimate concerns over your well-being on a long-term basis. Thus, receiving payment from your spouse’s military pension becomes more and more important the older you get.
I have worked with a handful of families where a military spouse has chosen not to move towards a divorce to continue to receive military benefits in the short term. This is the ultimate tradeoff in that you are exchanging you are happy to receive significant help for yourself and your family. What I would say is that this sort of tradeoff is not necessary. Instead, you can learn more about military benefits in how they will impact your divorce by contacting an experienced family law attorney today.
As we have already seen, you must be able to hire an attorney who has first-hand knowledge of the deadlines and rules associated with military divorces instead of only being experienced in handling civilian cases. While the Texas family code treats divorces of military families the same as divorces of nonmilitary families, federal guidelines and military rules require your attorney to be aware of these deadlines and requirements in advance. It is not a good idea for your attorney to be learning this on the fly and not already have the deadlines in mind.
When you meet with a potential attorney, you should ask them their level of experience in handling military divorces. If the attorney tells you that they have never dealt with the army divorce, then I would not recommend signing a contract with that attorney. The fact is that there is nothing wrong with an attorney learning on the fly. Every attorney learned something with every case they handled. However, I would not recommend that you be the case in the client on which your attorney knows about military divorces. Instead, working with an experienced military family attorney, like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, is a much more preferable route for you to take.
Minimizing mistakes in a divorce is always a crucial period; however, the more complicated or divorce becomes, the more essential it is for you and your attorney to avoid mistakes. With so much in the way of deadlines, requirements, and general knowledge is for a military divorce, it cannot be oversold how important it will be for you and your family to be represented by an attorney who has been there before and who can provide you with the sort of representation that you deserve.
What sort of benefits is available to you as a former military spouse?
We have already seen how the military benefits available to you depend on the length of your marriage in many regards. This is true not only for military retirement and health insurance benefits before a range of other benefits available to military spouses who are going through a divorce.
As we mentioned a moment ago, your spouse’s military retirement pension can be divided no matter how long you and your spouse have been married. Evil could have been married for one, 2, 10, or 50 years and you will still be eligible to receive a portion of their pension. However, it is only when you have been married for at least ten years and those ten years have coincided with ten years of military service that you can receive direct payment from the military retirement pay center. Otherwise, he will have to become more creative and more patient about how the military retirement benefits will be paid to you.
Child support and alimony are also provided to military spouses through the uniformed services former spouses protection act. There is no length of service or size of marriage requirement regarding this subject. However, you will not be able to receive direct payment from the military payment center in any regard for child support or alimony. Like civilian families, You will have to rely upon your ex-spouse to pay you these amounts directly or through the office of the attorney general of Texas when it comes to child support.
Complete coverage for health care is provided to you so long as you meet the “20/20/20” rule that we discussed earlier in today’s blog post. This is a high hurdle to clear for many families, essentially for those younger. The degree of medical coverage that can be provided to you Varies depending upon the length of your marriage. Still, some degree of medical insurance is offered to you as a former spouse in a divorce scenario.
What about if your spouse is deployed overseas?
The most significant piece of advice that I can provide you with regarding divorcing a spouse serving our nation overseas is to make sure that you’re divorced in Texas will abide by the divorce process and participate. If they do not, you will be in a position where you cannot move forward. A court will not allow you to take a default judgment against a spouse serving in the military overseas. Therefore, before you move forward with the divorce and develop plans associated with it, you should talk to Your spouse to ensure they will participate in the process.
This is especially important if you’re spouse were to attempt to file for divorce from you in another country. If you become aware that your spouse has filed for divorce in another country, you should consider filing for divorce here in Texas or whatever state you had last resided in. Doing so is not the most straightforward process and will end up costing you time and money. After all, you will be going through two divorce processes and will have to stretch your family budget even thinner. However, it is the best thing that I can think of to assure that you will receive protection of the benefits you are entitled to.
Final thoughts on military benefits
As we’ve talked about today. Your attorney in a military divorce has to know a great deal about the military retirement benefits period; this is not a suggestion or consideration you should give. I believe it is essential. Knowledge of retirement plan eligibility, deadlines, properly evaluating the marital property, and other related Community property issues in a Texas divorce are all intertwined and essential. At that point, you and your attorney will be able to successfully negotiate your way through the divorce or take your case to trial if necessary.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.