A military divorce is one where either or both of the parties involved serve(d) in the armed forces. For such a divorce, the spouse serving in the military can be on active duty or reserve duty or even retired. Divorce is strenuous, and when it comes to separation from a military service man special circumstances come into play.
Is a military divorce different from a civilian divorce?
Indeed a military divorce differs from a civilian divorce. The circumstances surrounding a military divorce are often very different from those in a civilian divorce. For instance, things that take a toll on military spouses include long separations from family during service time, depression, readjustment to civilian life and PTSD. These do not arise in civilian divorces.
US laws have put these circumstances into consideration, and have provisions to regulate and protect spouses in a military divorce. Military divorces do not, therefore, fall under the same laws as civilian divorces. However, in some matters that arise during a military divorce other laws that apply to civil divorces will be used, though not entirely. These issues include child support and alimony.
What laws concern military divorces?
As stated these divorces are given extra protection by law not normally accorded to civilian divorce. Some of the Federal laws relating to military divorce include:
- The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA).
- The Service Members Civil Relief Act
- The Military Family Tax Relief Act.
States have also developed family laws that consider military divorce.
How do you file for a military divorce?
If you are a military spouse or are in the military and wish to file for a divorce, there are three jurisdictions where you can file for a divorce. The state of your residence, the state where the spouse on active duty is stationed and the state the serviceman claims legal residence. You need to consult a military divorce lawyer to know where to file the petition because of variations in state laws.
Serving a spouse in the military, with divorce petition is subject to special laws. Especially if the person concerned is deployed at the time of filing the petition. Service members are expected to devote themselves fully at the time of deployment. Therefore, The Service Members’ Civil Relief Act protects them from the distractions of civil litigation (divorce). A serving of petitions of deployed spouses is reserved to military personnel, who can either agree or refuse to do so. The serving may be delayed 60 days after the return of the spouse. The military serving spouse has the right to a court-appointed counsel which is different than the collaborative divorce process.
How is child custody treated in a military divorce?
For parties undergoing a military divorce, determining child custody rights will be similar to civilian divorce. The courts will use state laws and consider the children’s need and income of parents. If the spouse in the army is deployed overseas for long, this can be used in determining custody.
If an active serviceman defaults in payment of child support, his commanding officer can order him to comply with court orders.
How are property and income treated in a military divorce?
Just like in other divorces you expect the property an income to be factored in during a military divorce. Generally, federal laws are reluctant to divide the property of partners in the marriage unless the marriage lasted for ten years of active service of the spouse in the military. Retirement pay of a service member in the military is treated as property and not income. The USFSPA entitles military spouses to half of disposable retirement pay to support the family. Benefits such as disability and survivors pay in the pension are not subject to the division to the other spouse.
As for income, there are benefits, exclusions, and deductions that are made on serviceman’s pay. For example, the combat zone exclusion makes a part of a spouse in the army not part of his/her income. To understand these factors and how they affect income, you need to consult a military divorce lawyer. The needs of alimony and child support in a military divorce require knowledge of income.
In conclusion, a military divorce involves a marriage where a partner is/was enlisted in the army. It is subject to specific regulations of the law. Due to the uniqueness of circumstances involved in a military divorce, it is best if you seek help from lawyer specialized in military divorce laws and state family laws.