Military divorce lawyers adhere to different rules and regulations than civilian divorce lawyers. As such, they receive specialized training to prepare them to represent military personnel in divorce proceedings. Military divorces must comply with all military regulations, follow certain residential requirements and include military pension provisions. Any military divorce involves both federal and state laws, especially when military pension and child support become issues.
A military divorce is simply a divorce that occurs when one of the parties is a military service member is retired or on active or reserve duty. When a divorce occurs, there is nothing too much different from a civilian divorce except that many states have relaxed residency requirements. If the spouse of a person serving in the military files for divorce, the active duty spouse must be served personally with the divorce summons if the state is to be involved. Some states allow for a divorce to be filed in the state where the military person is stationed. In other states, the petition must be filed in the state where the spouse resides or in the state where the military member has legal residency.
Military personnel going through a divorce have certain protections granted to them. They are expected “to devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation” and as such are protected against certain lawsuits being filed during the time that the divorce is pending. In addition, the divorce proceedings may be delayed if the military person is on active duty and for sixty days following active duty
Military divorce lawyers must be very well versed in the military pension laws of the state where the divorce is taking place. In addition, these specialized lawyers need to be very knowledgeable in the federal divorce laws as well. Federal laws take a close look at former spouses in military pension distribution and Federal laws affect all active duty, reserve duty and retired military personnel. In some cases, up to 50% of a military member’s pension can be awarded to an ex-spouse. As with any divorce, sizable pension payments are often awarded to spouses who have faithfully supported their spouse’s chosen career.
Military personnel faced with divorce are protected by special rules that are intended to prevent their spouses from unfairly taking advantage of their active-duty status. A spouse on active duty may be unable to attend divorce proceedings because he or she is not stationed near the divorce court. When this happens, the military member can ask the court to delay proceedings until military requirements allow the member to attend. The judge will usually grant the delay unless it is determined that the military service does not substantially affect the member’s ability to attend. If you or your spouse is on active duty, the provisions of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Relief Act, 50 U.S.C.A. App. Sec. 521 (1968) may affect the procedures. If your spouse is in active duty and you are seeking an uncontested divorce, you may ask your spouse to waive the provisions contained in that law.
Active duty military personnel should promptly advise the court of their active-duty military status, and, if applicable, their intention to obtain a stay of proceedings under the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act. Because the stay for the divorce proceeding is discretionary with the court, military personnel may wish to retain an attorney to make the motion to the court to delay the hearing. Sooner or later, even if a stay is granted, the divorce case will proceed.
It may be financially advantageous to proceed quickly with a divorce. Because a military pension increases in value over time, a delay in the divorce proceedings may merely increase a spouse’s financial interest in a military members retirement benefits. Thus, a determination of whether to request a stay of proceedings should be made after careful consideration.
There are many factors which cause military divorces to be more complicated than most. By the very nature of military service, the families of military personnel may be transient, which can complicate issues such as jurisdiction and the divorce laws that go with it. Divorcing military couples face unique challenges and complications that do not affect the vast majority of divorcing couples. As such, they may have a number of important questions which need to be answered.
Many couples find that consulting with a divorce attorney with experience in helping military couples is a good way to start the process. He or she can answer any questions about divorce and the unique challenges you may face.
Knowing Where to File
One of the first complications you may face is knowing where to file for your divorce. There are actually several acceptable options for where to file, namely:
· The county in which the non-service member lives
· The county in which the serviceman or woman is stationed
· The county which the serviceman or woman claims as his or her permanent residence
Any of these options is equally correct in terms of where to file for divorce.
Child Support and Alimony
The way child support and alimony payments are handled is another of the major differences between military and civilian divorces. Servicemen and women often have more complicated incomes than civilians, because of base pay, bonuses, and other considerations. Additionally, when the divorce involves retired military personnel, pensions and other income must be factored into the equation. Military pensions are divisible in divorces, although there are a number of rules about this.