Military Divorces and The Texas Family Code

Residency and Domicile (Once a Texan, always a Texan):

Let’s suppose you are a service member or the spouse of a service member and you arrive in a county of Texas due to military assignment.  Once you have met the standard residency and domicile requirements (residing in a county for 90 days and domiciled in Texas for 6 months), suit may be filed for divorce in that county.  Next, let’s suppose that after you have been stationed in a given county for the required residency and domicile time and  you get transferred to another service station.  You get to keep that residency and domicile, even if you move to another county within Texas or to another state or to a foreign country!  Here is the exact language from the Texas Family Code.   An experienced military divorce lawyer is well familiar with this provision:

Time spent by a Texas domiciliary outside this state or outside the county of residence of the domiciliary while in the service of the armed forces or other service of the United States or of this state, or while accompanying the domiciliary’s spouse in the spouse’s service of the armed forces or other service of the United States or of this state, is considered residence in this state and in that county. (TFC Section 6.303)

Visits with children (“We get to see Grandma while Daddy’s gone!”)

Next, make sure your military divorce attorney includes in your decree special provisions dealing with visits with your children when your military duty prohibits your having visits with your children.  This happens to service members who are deployed to a combat area, are assigned to critical temporary duty or are subject to military mobilization. You can’t take your children with you. But, in your decree you can designate a person to exercise your visitation rights during those periods of time. This could include summer possessions, holiday possessions and weekend possessions otherwise awarded to you in your decree.  The family judge reserves the right to determine whether the person you have identified as your “stand-in” visitor is appropriate and the order usually requires that your “stand-in” visitor picks up from,  and returns the children to,  the other parent.  

Child Support (“Hey, that’s my BAH to keep!”)

When calculating child support due from a service member to another party the divorce lawyer should be aware that a service member’s non-taxable benefits are to be included in setting the child support.  This could include Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Basic Subsistence Allowance (BAS) and even the annual uniform allowance.  This is where an experienced divorce attorney will do TWO calculations, one on a service member’s base pay and the second on his or her non-taxable benefits.  Then the divorce lawyer combines the two totals to get the grand total for child support. 

By the way, a service member who has a child support order gets to keep his or her BAH with Dependents if the amount of the child support meets or exceed the “differential” between the BAH rate with dependents and  the BAH rate without dependents.  Need help on this final point?  Call us at (915) 593-6600 or (915) 256-0579 or email us directly at: doug@dsmithpllc.com.  We have handled 1,000’s of cases for service members or their spouses.