Military Divorce

Texas has many active and retired service members from all branches of the U.S. military. While the ordinary divorce in Texas can be complex, when one or both spouses are either active or retired military, the complexity increases substantially. Having an attorney who understands both family law and the rules for dividing military income, benefits, and retirement pensions is essential.

At Sanchez & Farrar PLLC, one of our attorneys, Marco Sanchez, is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as well as an experienced family law attorney. This experience means we understand the unique challenges presented for military service members when dealing with a divorce.

Active Duty

For active duty military, a divorce can raise special concerns. If the marriage meets the military requirements, a portion of the future retirement benefits may have to be divided.

Custody Issues

If there are children, there are a host of issues related to custody (in Texas, parental custody is known as "conservatorship") issues. A spouse may attempt to file for divorce while a service member is deployed and unable to respond to court filings. This can be prevented by application of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which stays (stops) any civil case filed against active duty service members.

Once a divorce case begins, custody issues can be complex due to relocation issues, the presumption that each parent should receive equal time, and the difficulty of an active duty service member being available if they are deployed with any frequency. Our attorneys understand these challenges. We will work to develop a conservatorship arrangement that serves the best interests of your children, while working within the constraints of your service.

Pension Benefits And The Rules Of 10/10 And 20/20/20

The military is fond of long acronyms. Few are longer than USFSPA, which is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. This federal act protects spouses of service members after a divorce.

10/10 Rule

If the couple was married at least 10 years, and 10 of those years included military serivce, the nonmilitary spouse will receive a share of the service members' pension directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), outside of the service member's retirement.

If the couple was married less than 10 years or have fewer than 10 creditable years, you may still receive a portion of the retirement benefits, but you will be paid by your former spouse directly.

20/20/20 Rule

The 20/20/20 rule increases the benefits to the nonmilitary spouse. If you have 20 years of marriage, 20 years of creditable military service, and 20 years of overlap between the military service and the marriage, you are entitled to health care benefits and commissary privileges.

How To Divide Military Retirement Benefits

These determinations can be complex. Our lawyers understand how these laws work to obtain the optimal outcome for your specific facts. Even if you are entitled to these benefits, your divorce settlement must have explicit details for every aspect of these benefits, including notice requirements and instructions that ensure that you receive the benefits at the earliest opportunity.

If you are the nonmilitary spouse, you do not want a former spouse deciding when they will take their benefits. You want the order to state when they must apply.

Contact Our Firm

We can help with all the complexities involving military divorce and pensions. Call our Austin office at (713) 364-0170 or use our online form.