When an important relationship like marriage reaches its conclusion, it is naturally a sad and difficult time for spouses. When couples decide to divorce, they are usually faced with common issues like how to divide property, custody arrangements and child support. However, when the divorcing couple includes a member of the military, there are additional issues that must be resolved. A military divorce may need a different approach than divorce between civilian spouses.
If you are a member of the military (or your spouse is a servicemember) and seeking a divorce you should be prepared to understand the issues you will be facing and may not be expecting. Here are a few common issues that must be addressed in a military divorce.
Military divorce concerns
If one spouse is deployed overseas, it may make choosing the jurisdiction in which to file for divorce confusing. Typically, the divorce should be filed in the state that one of the spouses resides. This might be the state where the civilian spouse resides, but can also be where the servicemember is stationed or where he or she is considered a legal resident (even if stationed in another location).
Military pay and pensions may be a point of contention in the divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) governs how military retirement benefits may be calculated and divided between the spouses if they divorce. Namely, the retirement benefits will not be divided unless the couple has been married 10 years or more during a time that one of the spouses was an active member of the military. Any retirement benefits will be paid directly to the ex-spouse.
There may also be other types of military related benefits at issue such as housing benefits, VA loans, healthcare benefits, VA disability waivers and combat related service compensation.
Length of time for divorce proceeding
Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), active servicemembers are allowed to delay a civil proceeding while on military duty. A stay may be issued, usually for a minimum of 90 days. The court may continue the stay if the servicemember can show that current duties prevent participation in the proceeding. The divorce proceeding may be delayed if this occurs. However, it may not be postponed forever.
Child support determination
In North Dakota, child support is governed by state law and child support guidelines. Child support obligations may typically be enforced by court order, garnishment or voluntary or involuntary allotment.
Contact a knowledgeable divorce attorney
Military divorce has unique issues and challenges, but at the heart, it is about working together to find the best solution to fit your family. It is important to work with an attorney who is knowledgeable in military divorce to address these unique issues and help you through your concerns. Contact Melinda Weerts Law, PLLC at 800-762-1889 to answer your questions and advise you on the best way to start your divorce proceeding.