5 Things You Need to Know About Military Divorce

Military father in uniform holds his daughter's hand

The standard divorce process is challenging enough as it is. Add in a military spouse and it all can get that much trickier.

Here are five things you should know about military divorce:

#1 - The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects legal rights

Usually, when you have the divorce papers served to your spouse, he or she must respond within a specified time period. However, the SCRA allows a civil court or administrative proceeding to be postponed or extended if the service member can provide proof that he or she cannot attend as a result of duty. Additionally, the SCRA provides particular protections on default judgments for not responding to a lawsuit or failing to appear at trial.

#2 - A military legal assistance attorney cannot represent you in your divorce.

While the military legal assistance attorneys can help you understand the implications of your divorce, they cannot represent you or your spouse in a family law court.

You must retain a nongovernment civilian lawyer to represent you.

#3 - You and your spouse will need separate attorneys.

At first glance, it may seem simpler to use the same attorney for both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

This is not possible.

A service member and dependent spouse need separate attorneys to provide advice and ensure both spouses receive independent and confidential advice. This practice avoids any conflicts of interest.

#4 - The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act provides specific benefits to former military spouses.

If a former spouse of a military service member remains unmarried, he or she may be able to obtain the following privileges:

  • Medical
  • Commissary
  • Exchange
  • Theater
  • Other privileges

However, the former spouse must meet the requirements for the 20/20/20 rule:

  • The former spouse was married to the military member for no less than 20 years when the divorce, dissolution, or annulment occurred.
  • The military service member has conducted no less than 20 years of service that is able to be credited for determining eligibility for retired pay. However, the member does not have to be retired from active duty.
  • The former spouse was married to the service member during no less than 20 years of the member’s retirement-creditable service.

#5 - It is best to file for divorce on U.S. soil.

United States courts don’t always recognize a foreign divorce, which is why it’s not a good idea to file for divorce while you are overseas. It is best to file while you are on domestic land. According to divorce laws, service members and their spouses may file for divorce in:

  • The state where the service member is currently stationed;
  • The state where the service member claims legal residency; or
  • The state where the nonmilitary spouse resides.

If you are currently serving overseas and want to file for divorce, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Speak with legal representation right away if you own property overseas, such as a house.
  • Family members and the property they own can be taken home at government expense prior to the end of the service member’s tour of duty.

If you are a member of the military and would like to seek representation for your divorce, we are here to help. Our attorneys have extensive military backgrounds and have helped many other service members amicably end their marriages. Let us see how we can help with your divorce. Don’t delay—contact our office right away with any questions you may have.

Schedule a consultation with our Colorado Springs lawyers today by calling us at (719) 626-8530.

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