San Antonio, Texas divorce lawyer J. Michael Clay has successfully represented military service members and military spouses involved in divorce cases and other family law proceedings in Bexar County, Texas, and in surrounding counties. Divorce suits and other matters involving military service members, and/or their spouses and/or former spouses, present special challenges and require detailed knowledge of Texas divorce law and federal law on the part of the attorney for a service member and/or military spouse or former spouse. J. Michael Clay has the knowledge, skill and experience to represent military service members in divorce and all other types of family law cases.
The primary issues which often come up in divorces involving military service members are:
- Retirement issues, including SBP elections, and other issues;
- Computation of child support obligations;
- Unique child custody and visitation issues in the case of overseas deployment or TDY; and
- Invocation of rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
Military retirement is the single most misunderstood issue by military clients. Many service members mistakenly believe that his or her spouse is not entitled to any share of the service member's military retirement unless the parties have been married for at least 10 years. This is simply not true. Whether or not military retirement benefits, or any portion thereof, is divisible as community property is left up to the individual states, subject to certain limitations. For example, federal law provides that VA disability benefits are NOT subject to being divided as community property. Federal law also provides that the Department of Defense cannot pay the non-service member spouse directly unless the parties were married for 10 years or longer, during which time the service member served 10 years of more active duty. The survivor benefit plan election is another very misunderstood element of military retirement, and should be thoroughly discussed and explained by the divorce attorney to the client.
The invocation of rights under the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is very important and prevalent when the country is at war, as well as when it is not. The SCRA is federal law which protects service members from being unfairly treated when they are unable to attend court proceedings due to deployment which prevents them from being granted leave to attend such hearings. Any service member who is deployed overseas should ask that this law be explained thoroughly and completely by his or her divorce lawyer.
Enforcement issues regarding military retirement arise most often when a service member begins receiving retirement and the former spouse is not receiving her share of that retired directly from DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service). It is usually very difficult for either party to determine exactly how much, if any, the retired service member is required to pay to the former spouse, and litigation often results. There are some very important filing deadlines of which it is critical for the former spouse and retired servicemember to be aware. If a former spouse waits too long to bring an enforcement suit after a service member retires, he/she may give up his or her rights to a substantial amount of benefits. For this reason, it is important for a former spouse to be aware of a retired servicemember’s retirement date and to consult an attorney immediately if he or she believes the retired servicemember is receiving benefits and not paying the appropriate share to the former spouse. Conversely, it is important for the retired servicemember to determine exactly how much he or she should be paying the former spouse, if anything, to avoid being in violation of the order.
J. Michael Clay has the experience, knowledge and skill necessary to successfully represent military service member clients. J. Michael Clay is highly experienced in working out amicable solutions to military divorce issues and other family law proceedings involving military service members, including child custody, child support, enforcement, modification, and adoption issues. The Law Office of J. Michael Clay crafts plans to protect the rights of military service members and/or their spouses. We work with our clients and the Texas courts to assist our clients and find the solutions that are right for them. In the event that amicable solutions are simply not possible, J. Michael Clay also has the knowledge, experience, and aggressiveness necessary to effectively represent military clients in court.
J. Michael Clay represents both in-state and out-of-state clients. In fact, the Law Office of J. Michael Clay currently represents clients located all over the world, including many military service members. If you are a military service member, or if you are married to a military service member, and have an issue involving divorce, child custody, child support, child visitation, or adoption, contact us today for a free consultation. We look forward to answering your questions and finding the legal solutions that are right for you.