There are nearly 1.1 million active-duty members of the United States military, so it should come to reason that it’s not impossible for any of them to face a family law matter, including a divorce. Between long stretches away from home, financial strains, and other hardships that can come hand-in-hand with having a family while in the military, divorce is not unheard of. If you’re in this situation, there are some important things you need to know regarding your military divorce case and how it will be significantly different from a civilian divorce.
Filing for Divorce
Military personnel often live in different places than where they have their “residence.” This is because encampments, stations, and deployments can change quickly and last for months or even years. So the big question for many people becomes where do you actually file for divorce? In any instance, the court that grants you divorce needs to have “jurisdiction” over you and your spouse. Essentially, this means you can file in the state where you are domiciled, or where you or your spouse are considered a resident. You both must agree on where you’re going to file for the divorce.
Spousal & Child Support
Being in the military does not excuse you from your obligation to support your children and your spouse if the need is present. The Department of Defense requires that you adhere to any and all support orders you are issued during your divorce process. Failing to do so can result in serious consequences, including military punishment such as a Court Martial or even separation from military service.
Calculating these amounts is also different depending on the state where you file for divorce, and your position within the military. Furthermore, your obligations will likely change if you’re deployed or sent overseas. This means you’ll need to draft a plan for how these agreements will change when you are sent out on active duty, and this plan will need to be approved as part of your final divorce.
Child Custody & Visitation
Determining child custody and visitation hours can be extremely complicated when a spouse is sent overseas or when movement and relocation are such a constant, imminent threat. This means child custody is often difficult to determine, and it’s important that you have an attorney on your side who’s familiar with family law matters in military law.
Pension & Property Division
Though it may not seem like it, the military is still technically your employer, and that means you receive benefits including your military pension. However, your spouse may have a claim to part of that pension since it includes assets that were obtained during the marriage, thus making it “community property.” Since these assets are subject to division, you’ll have to consider several special issues that will be unique to your situation, including health care, asset distribution, and what your obligations will be once your divorce is completed.
For more information about military divorce or to obtain help from a qualified attorney, call The Virga Law Firm, P.A. today at (800) 822-5170 and request a case evaluation!