If you are considering getting a divorce, and you or your spouse are in the military, you should be prepared to encounter additional hurdles. The benefits that the military provides can become a factor that you need to address as you dissolve your marriage. An experienced military divorce lawyer can help you navigate getting a divorce in the military and protect your rights in this process.
What Is Unique About a Military Divorce?
If you want to get a military divorce, it is important that you understand that these splits are governed by federal laws rather than state laws. If you are in the military, you should expect to encounter some complications that you would not encounter in a divorce outside of the military. For example, you might end up seeing changes or obstacles in regard to:
- Residency: Many states have strict residency requirements for filing for divorce. For example, they might expect you or your spouse to have resided in the state for a significant period of time before being allowed to file there.However, if you are in the military, you might have moved around quite a number of times within a short period. As a result, you may fail to meet the requirements. In some cases, states might waive these residency requirements for a military divorce.
- Benefits: If you and your spouse were not in the military, then your pension would be governed by state laws. However, if you are in the military, then the United States Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) governs how your pension will be divided. The outcome of this process will depend on a whole host of factors, such as how long you were married.
- SCRA protections: If you are in the military, you might find that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) impacts parts of your divorce. This act grants several rights to active duty members, such as postponing your divorce proceedings. It also can impact the division of property, as it limits interest rates applied to certain financial obligations.
How to Get a Military Divorce?
If you are considering getting a military divorce, you should start the process by consulting with a divorce attorney with experience in military divorces. Getting professional legal counsel attuned to your unique situation will help make sure you are as informed as possible about the process right from the start.
You can work with your military divorce attorney to determine your residency requirements. You will have to pick a state to file in, which might end up being the state in which you are stationed, the state in which your spouse resides, or the state in which you have residence. You will also have to determine the state’s rules regarding no-fault divorces and whether you will have to have grounds to file.
Once you have an understanding of how you will go about filing, your military divorce lawyer can help you file the documents to start the process. This will lead you to a process of dividing assets and, if you have children together, making child support and child custody arrangements. The amount of time and legal negotiation that this takes will depend on several elements, notably whether or not you and your spouse are in agreement about how to split up your assets.
Q: What Are My Rights as a Military Spouse in a Divorce?
A: If you are a military spouse, the USFSPA actively protects you in your divorce. You may be entitled to a portion of your spouse’s pension, spousal support, a portion of your marital property, benefits, and legal protections. Your military divorce lawyer can help you understand the specific protections that you are entitled to in the context of your own financial and personal situation.
Q: Can You Date in the Military If You Are Legally Separated?
A: If you are in the military and you are legally separated, you should be aware of accusations of cheating or other penalties that might later impact your divorce process. This can vary based on where you live and what the circumstances of your divorce are. Your divorce lawyer can help you better understand how to proceed if you are considering dating and you and your spouse are legally separated but are not divorced.
Q: What Is the 10-Year Rule for a Military Spouse?
A: The ten-year rule is a part of the USFSPA, which protects former military spouses. Put simply, it states that if the military spouse served for ten years or more in the military, and the length of the marriage was ten years or more, then the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) can give out a portion of the military pension to the spouse who was not in the military. Your lawyer can help you determine if this rule applies to you and what its implications are.
Q: How Does Marriage Separation Work in the Military?
A: Military members have the same legal rights to divorce and marriage separation as civilians. However, the implications of separation on your rights are different than if you are divorced. For instance, neither one of you can legally remarry until you are officially divorced. You also cannot become entitled to their military benefits if you are separated, only if you are legally divorced.
Contact a Seasoned Military Divorce Lawyer Today
If you are considering separating from your spouse or getting a divorce, and one or both of you are in the military, you should seek legal guidance. A military divorce is complex, and your military divorce attorney can help ensure you understand what is involved in the process and what the implications are for your finances, property, pension, child custody, and more. Your lawyer can also make sure that there is someone in your corner, fighting for your rights every step of the way.
The dedicated team at Stange Law Firm is experienced in representing clients in military divorce across the United States. To receive more information about how we can provide you with guidance and protection through this legal process, get in touch with our office today.