If you or your spouse is a service member, you will encounter certain differences in the event of a divorce. Unlike civil divorces, military divorces are affected by unique factors that must be put into consideration during the separation. Here are four ways in which a military divorce differs from a civilian divorce.
1. Filing for divorce
Once you and your spouse have decided to go your separate ways, you need to establish where you should file for the divorce. You need to determine which court has the jurisdiction to grant you a divorce. This generally means that the divorce must be filed in a state where the military spouse is a resident.
2. Child Custody and Visitation
Child custody and visitation are usually determined by state laws. However, there are certain challenges that come into play when dealing with service members who are on active duty. For example, if they are deployed to a different part of the world or even stationed at a base in another state, it can be difficult to coordinate existing child custody and visitation arrangements.
3. Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
Unlike civilian divorces, military divorces can be affected by a federal law known as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This law prevents the court from entering a court order when the servicemember is away on active duty. The idea is to allow them to focus on their missions while away from home.
The military spouse can therefore request for a delay in any court proceeding until they are able to appear in person. This means that the court cannot enforce any permanent decisions that might affect the service member’s relationship with the children. While this might be frustrating for the non-military spouse, the court is obligated to balance the rights of both civilian and military spouses.
4. Military Pension
Another unique difference in a military divorce is the issue of military pension and other military retirement benefits. If the couple does not have many marital assets or debts to divide during the divorce, the non-military spouse may be entitled to a percentage of the service member’s military pension. However, there are certain rules that apply when it comes to sharing the retirement pension of the military spouse. In particular, the couple must have been married for at least 10 years for the non-military spouse to claim a share of the retirement pension.
Civilian and military divorces are similar in the sense that they all respect the notion of child and spousal support, and the need to balance the rights of all the parties involved. For more information on military divorce or to speak with a family law attorney, contact Bobby Barina.