Divorce is complicated and heartbreaking for anyone. But when you add the complications of one spouse being in the military, there are additional factors that come into play. Military divorce can be complicated, which is why it’s important to have a trusted family law attorney by your side.
Served Divorce Papers While on Active Duty
In a typical situation, when one spouse serves the other divorce papers, the spouse who was served has a set amount of time to respond. However, if you are an active duty service member, you may wonder what your timeline is.
Under The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, service members who are served divorce papers have an extended time frame to respond.
The Act explains:
- If a service member is in active duty and unable to attend a civil court or the administrative proceeding, the stay is extended
- Service members in active duty are given certain protections for failure to respond to a lawsuit or appear in a trial
Rights As A United States Service Member, Benefits To a Former Spouse
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is the federal law that provides some benefits to former military spouses. Known as the 20-20-20 rule, un-remarried, former spouses may receive medial, commissary, exchange, and theater privileges under the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program. However, certain qualifications must be met such as:
- The former spouse was married to the military member for at least 20 years
- The military member has performed at least 20 years of service that is creditable retirement pay
- The former spouse was married to the member during at least 20 years of the member’s retirement-creditable service
If you do not meet these qualifications however, your military spouse benefits end the day the divorce is made final.
Is my military divorce filed overseas valid?
If you are an active duty service member and your divorce is completed while you are overseas, you may wonder if the United States courts will find it to be valid. The answer is that it depends.
Under divorce law, service members and their spouses can file for divorce in either the state where the military spouse is stationed, where the service member claims legal residency, or where the non-military spouse resides.
However, if your spouse moved with you overseas and you now own property and other assets, you may want to speak with an attorney, as that property may need to be brought to the states at the government’s expense.
Child Support and Custody
When you are in the military, you may wonder what your rights and obligations are for child support and custody once the divorce is final. A key component the courts will review is how often you are away from home because of your military career.
In many cases, the parent who is an active duty service member will not receive custody of the child(ren) because they are not home.
In some divorce proceedings when the non-military spouse has not been able to attend higher education or pursue their own employment, they may be entitled to a greater amount of custody and support pay.
Military Divorce: Know Your Rights
If you are a member of the United States military or are the spouse of active-duty military personnel and are seeking a divorce, contact Kalinoski Law Offices, P.C. Understanding military laws and benefits can be complicated and confusing. When you neglect to utilize a family law attorney, you may miss out on benefits that are rightfully yours. In addition, your ex may try to take advantage of your military benefits because you are not physically available to meet.
Do not handle a military divorce alone. Contact us today for a free consultation.