As an experienced family and divorce lawyer here in El Paso, Texas I have seen unique features in family law cases involving military service members.
Once a service member or his or her spouse has established their residence in El Paso County, Texas and then leaves while in the service of the United States armed forces, he or she does not lose that residence. It continues and the service member or his or her spouse accompanying him or her on active duty, can still sue for a divorce in this county. But, the court will still need to look at other factors when custodial or child support issues need to be considered. However, the court can still entertain a suit for divorce, even for parties gone for an extended time from this county.
The courts here in El Paso County can include a service member’s basic allowance for housing (BAH), Basic Subsistence Allowance (BAS) and uniform allowance, as part of a service member’s income when calculating the appropriate child support. A retired service member who also receives service connected disability VA benefits could also have his or her VA benefits factored into the child support calculation.
The courts cannot look negatively at a service member’s active duty status in determining whether to allow for an adoption.
Custody and Possession and Access:
A service member should always make sure that his or her final decree of divorce contains special provisions for visitation of his or her dependents when deployed. He or she can designate a person to exercise his or her visitation rights when the service member is deployed, mobilized or place on temporary duty status that do not allow for the service member to have his or her child to accompany him or her. Plus, the military duty of a conservator who is ordered to military deployment, military mobilization or temporary duty, does not by itself constitute a material change of circumstances sufficient to justify a modification of an existing court order governing access to or possession of a child.
A court cannot issue a default decree against an active duty service member without first appointing an ad litem attorney to seek out and inform the active duty service member of an ongoing case that could result in a final judgment. This is very important in divorce and suits affecting the parent-child relationship.
If you have any questions concerning Military Law Please email us directly or call us at 915-593-6600 or 915-256-0579. We look forward to helping you in any way that we can.