Divorcing the Overseas Soldier

Military Clients

Spouses go into a marriage with the intent of staying together forever, but circumstances and feelings can change. When a married couple loses that “spark,” they’ll normally file for divorce, and the process is rather straightforward.

Divorcing a soldier that is overseas is a more complicated matter.

Military Divorce Procedures

Military divorce procedures are a very unique situation. The spouse that currently resides in the states will need to file for divorce in the state where both spouses reside. The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects service members while on duty.

Understanding the SCRA

An act passed under federal law that aims to protect service members while on duty, the SCRA doesn’t allow service members to be involved in a lawsuit while deployed. Under this classification, a service member is protected from divorce while deployed so that he or she can defend the nation.

The courts will often delay the proceedings for:

  • The duration of the active service member’s duty.
  • Up to 60 days after duty has ended.

A “stay” or postponement will need to be sought by the service member to demonstrate that military service does not allow the member to defend or assert their legal rights accordingly. The court will take the following into account:

  • How military requirements affect court appearances.
  • When the member can appear in court.

The SCRA does not change any further divorce proceedings. Families that have children, property and assets will need to undergo routine divorce proceedings. As a spouse of a military member, you will be entitled to some benefits.

Spouses of military members that have been in service for 20 or more years or that have been married for 20 or more years will get some automatic benefits. These benefits include the following:

  • Medical benefits
  • Commissary benefits
  • Exchange benefits

If the ex-spouse of a military member decides to remarry, many of these benefits may be terminated as a result. Child support will follow standard procedures, but there is protection granted to the spouse.

The military takes extra precautions to ensure that service members honor child support requirements.

Service members that have been served divorce papers should contact an attorney immediately. A military attorney should be consulted to protect you and your assets at this time. Also note that military pension is not governed under the same laws as a civilian pension. Instead, all military pensions are governed under the Uniformed Services Former Spousal Protection Act (USFSPA).

Under the act, the spouse may not be entitled to the pension benefits of a military member.

It’s important to discuss your options with a military attorney as well as a state attorney. Different state laws will affect your divorce accordingly. Civilian divorce attorneys must be well-versed in both the SCRA and the USFSPA

Military divorces and separation can be fairly complex due to the mixing of state, federal and military codes. The military and federal codes and laws will determine the division of military pay and benefits, while the state where the divorce was filed will deal with child custody, alimony and division of property.Click to edit your new post…

The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm focusing exclusively on family law for men and fathers. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.

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