Military Divorce Lawyer

Marriage can be full of trials and tribulations and can, at times, be a complex territory to navigate but, as a military divorce lawyer can attest, military marriages are among the more resilient yet deeply challenged unions. Given the unique stressors military families face—long-term separations, frequent relocations, and the emotional strain of combat experiences—it’s no wonder military divorce has become a significant area of focus. Our team from Robinson & Hadeed shares insights into the complexities surrounding military divorce, a unique and often nuanced type of divorce. 

The Difference Between Military and Civilian Divorces

Military divorces differ from civilian ones, primarily due to the distinct legal and logistical considerations that must be addressed. First, the question of jurisdiction can complicate the process. A military member can file for divorce in the state where they are stationed, their legal residence, or the state where the spouse resides. As laws governing divorce vary from state to state, the choice of jurisdiction can significantly impact the divorce’s outcome.

Pension Benefits

Pension benefits are another critical aspect of military divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) recognizes the right of state courts to distribute military retired pay to a spouse or ex-spouse. It provides a legal mechanism for dividing military retirement benefits, although its application isn’t automatic. The division must be explicitly stated in the divorce decree or settlement agreement. Moreover, understanding the 20/20/20 rule is crucial. This rule provides benefits that a civilian spouse can receive post-divorce. If the marriage lasted at least 20 years, the military service was at least 20 years, and there was at least a 20-year overlap between these two, the former spouse may retain full military benefits and privileges, including healthcare.

Determining Child Custody

Military divorce also presents unique child custody issues. Frequent relocations and deployments can disrupt stability, making maintaining a standard visitation schedule challenging. This is why military divorce requires careful crafting of parenting plans, with contingency provisions included for deployment or relocation.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) offers special legal protection to active-duty service members. The SCRA allows for a “stay” or postponement of civil court matters, including divorce proceedings, if the servicemember can demonstrate that their military duty impedes their ability to participate fully in the proceedings.

Seeking Legal Counsel

While navigating a military divorce is inherently challenging, seeking professional help can be invaluable. Working with a lawyer who is well-versed in military divorce and knowledgeable about unique military benefits and federal and state divorce laws is crucial. They can help navigate these turbulent waters, ensuring a fair and equitable resolution.

Additionally, military families can leverage various support systems available within the military community. Mental health professionals, chaplains, support groups, and family service programs can all offer valuable assistance during this emotional journey.

While fraught with unique complexities, military divorce can be successfully navigated with proper understanding and professional help. It’s a process that demands a delicate balance between respect for military service and fair distribution of assets and responsibilities. Despite its challenges, remembering that there is a well-trodden path and a network of support can make the journey less daunting.