Coronavirus, Divorce and Family Law:

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Higdon Hardy & Zuflacht is taking a safe but proactive approach to the Coronavirus situation in our law practice. We are working every day to represent our family law clients. At the same time, we are following best practices to protect the health of our employees and our clients. To read more please Click Here

All our employees understand that they should not be working if they are sick, and in particular, that they should not be at our office while sick.

To further protect our employees and our clients we are encouraging meetings by phone, Zoom, Skype or similar means. We have represented clients from out of state and out of the country in this manner for many years. Our clients often prefer this to traveling to our office.

We are also working with the divorce and civil courts, as well as opposing counsel, to arrange court appearances, settlement conferences, and other litigation events remotely whenever possible.

To further protect the health of all concerned, all our attorneys and staff have the technology and capability to work on cases and with clients from home as well as at the office. Your phone calls will be returned. Your emails will be answered. Your case deadlines will be met.

The days ahead may be a challenge. We do not yet know the extent to which particular courts will curtail trials or even the extent to which HHZ will have clients and other guests come to our office. We will continue to work to take care of our clients’ cases and to take on new matters and clients. We will simply manage your case in less traditional, more technology-driven ways, that are safer for your health and ours.

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All of the partners at our firm are Board Certified in Family Law - less than 1% of Texas lawyers achieve this distinction.

3 unique complications that military divorce can introduce

Divorcing military spouses often face unique challenges, such as deciding where to file, crafting a parenting plan and properly dividing retirement pay.

In 2015, the Department of Defense reported that the military divorce rate had fallen to the lowest level recorded in the past decade, according to the military and veteran membership organization Military.com. Still, many service members and their spouses must navigate this difficult process each year in San Antonio and other parts of Texas. Unfortunately, these individuals often face many unusual complications in addition to the issues that arise during most divorces.

1. Choice of filing location

Since residency is a prerequisite to filing for divorce in a state, many couples don’t have any say over where they file for divorce. When servicemembers and their spouses live in different states, however, they may file in any state in which one of them has residency. They can also file for divorce in a state that the military spouse is domiciled in. The choice of filing location may significantly impact the following aspects of the divorce:

  • Division of marital property
  • Awarding of spousal support or maintenance
  • Child support obligations

For example, Texas follows community property laws, calculates child support based on fixed guidelines and requires spouses to meet strict criteria to receive alimony. Therefore, spouses who file for divorce here may receive significantly different settlements than they would in other states.

2. Child custody arrangements

Determining child custody and visitation arrangements can also be challenging when one parent faces the possibility of deployment or relocation within the U.S. To address this uncertainty, spouses may need to develop alternate parenting plans that account for different possible outcomes. Parents may also need to consider forms of visitation, such as electronic communication, that allow the military spouse to exercise his or her parental rights.

In Texas, parents have the right to agree to their own parenting plan, which a court can then review and approve. If parents cannot come to terms, the court may order arbitration or directly determine a parenting plan. During any of these processes, it is crucial that the eventual settlement account for issues such as future relocation or deployment.

3. Retirement asset division

Special considerations also apply when spouses are dividing retirement benefits during a military divorce. According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, a divorcing non-military spouse is eligible for a percentage or fixed amount of the military spouse’s retirement pay. If the marriage lasted at least 10 years and the military spouse served for at least 10 years during that period, the other spouse may receive payments directly from the DFAS.

Unlike many retirement assets, this pay does not have to be divided with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. Still, given the unique rules that apply, it’s often important for spouses to work with a professional who understands this type of asset division.

Seeking qualified help

Given all of these unusual issues, people preparing for a military divorce in Texas may benefit from consulting with an attorney who understands the unusual issues that these cases often involve. An attorney may be able to help a spouse protect his or her rights while working toward a fitting settlement.

Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. 12000 Huebner Rd #200 San Antonio, TX 78230 Telephone: (210) 349-9933 Fax: (210) 349-9988
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