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Filing for Divorce in the Military

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Divorce is universally recognized as a difficult and emotionally challenging process, laden with complexities and uncertainties. However, when either you or your spouse serves in the military, navigating the dissolution of marriage takes on an added layer of intricacy. Military divorces introduce a distinct set of legal considerations and hurdles that aren’t typically encountered in civilian separations.

Factors such as deployment, military pensions, and the division of benefits add layers of complexity to an already emotionally charged situation. Moreover, jurisdictional issues may arise when spouses are stationed in different states or even countries. As such, military members and their spouses embarking on this journey must equip themselves with a comprehensive understanding of the unique procedures and protections afforded to them.

Educating oneself on the intricacies of military divorce is paramount to safeguarding individual rights and interests amidst the dissolution of marriage within the context of military service.

How to File for Divorce in the Military

The first step in filing for a military divorce is determining which state has jurisdiction over your case. The legal residence for tax purposes can be either the state where the military spouse is currently stationed, the state where the non-military spouse resides, or the state where the military spouse claims legal residency. Factors such as where you pay taxes, where you’re registered to vote, and your driver’s license was issued can help establish legal residency.

Once you’ve determined the appropriate state, you’ll need to meet that state’s residency requirements before filing for divorce. In some cases, the non-military spouse may be able to file in the military spouse’s state of legal residency, even if they don’t physically live there.

After establishing jurisdiction and meeting the residency requirements, you can proceed with filing for divorce. However, if your spouse is on active duty, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) offers them certain protections. Under the SCRA, you can’t obtain a default judgment against your military spouse if they don’t consent to the divorce or participate in the proceedings.

How Long Does a Military Divorce Take?

The timeline of a military divorce can vary depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the state where you file the divorce, and the willingness of both parties to cooperate. On average, a military divorce can take anywhere from several months to over a year to finalize.

If you and your spouse can agree on all the terms of the divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support, the process will generally be quicker. However, if disagreements or one party is uncooperative, it can lengthen the timeline considerably.

Additionally, under the SCRA, active-duty military members can request a stay or postponement of the proceedings for up to 90 days. This can further extend the overall duration of the divorce process.

What Happens After the Divorce Settlement Agreement is Signed?

Filing for Divorce in the Military image 2Once you and your spouse have agreed on all the terms of your divorce and have signed the settlement agreement, several steps still need to happen before you can officially finalize the divorce.

First, you must submit the signed settlement agreement to the court for approval. The court will review the agreement soit’s fair and complies with state laws. If the judge approves the agreement, it will issue a final divorce decree, which legally ends your marriage.

At this point, the law requires you and your ex-spouse to follow the terms outlined in the settlement agreement. This may involve transferring property, setting up a child custody and visitation schedule, and beginning spousal support or child support payments.

If your divorce involves military benefits, take action to secure these benefits properly. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) dictates how military retirement pay gets divided. Likewise, specific requirements exist for a former spouse to maintain Tricare health insurance coverage.

Getting the Help You Need

Going through a military divorce can be a daunting and stressful experience, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. Working with a seasoned military divorce lawyer can help you tackle the complexities of the process so that that your rights and interests are protected.

At Marshall & Taylor PLLC, our compassionate and skilled attorneys have extensive experience handling military divorces. We understand the challenges military families face and dedicate themselves to providing the guidance and support you need during this difficult time. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, please don’t hesitate to call us at (919) 833-1040 or reach out online.

Remember that you can get through this no matter how challenging your situation may seem. With the right legal assistance and support system in place, you can confidently move forward and start the next chapter of your life.