What should I know about divorcing someone who is in the military?

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When divorcing, if one or both spouses are in the military, they will be confronted with unique legal requirements that those undergoing a civilian divorce do not face. Although military divorces share some similarities with civilian divorces, there are significant differences that should be taken into consideration. It is important to understand that military members and nonmilitary spouses are afforded certain rights and benefits. Keep reading to learn how military divorces are different from civilian divorces. In addition, please contact a proficient Suffolk County Divorce & Separation Attorney who can help you navigate this complex legal process.

How is a military divorce different from a civilian divorce?

Military divorces differ from civilian divorces for many reasons. Firstly, when it comes to filing for a divorce, there are different residency requirements. Generally, residency requirements are more lenient for service members as a military member or nonmilitary spouse can file for divorce in the state where the military member is stationed, in the state where the couple has legal residence, or in the state where the military member claims legal residency. Moreover, if one spouse is an active member of the military, serving divorce papers can be complicated. If they are overseas, a nonmilitary spouse will have to request service through a military authority or send the divorce papers through certified mail. However, the active member of the military must be willing to receive it.

Furthermore, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects military service members against default judgments. Generally, in a civilian divorce, if one spouse does not appear in court, the court will rule a default judgment which is a verdict in favor of one party based on the other party not showing up. In a military divorce, as one spouse may be active overseas, a default judgment cannot occur if they fail to respond or attend because of their legal duty.

How are pensions divided?

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a federal law established in 1982 that allows nonmilitary spouses to receive certain benefits. Essentially, a military pension is regarded as marital property. Un-remarried spouses can receive a portion of the divided military pay sent from the Defense Finance and Accounting Services. However, you must meet certain eligibility requirements including the duration of the marriage was at least 10 years and your former military spouse served at least 10 years of creditable service. The same goes for TRICARE medical coverage. A former un-remarried spouse may be entitled to this type of health insurance if the marriage lasted for at least 20 years, the military service member performed at least 15 years of creditable service, and the period of marriage overlapped the period of service by at least 15 years per the 20/20/15 rule.

Divorce is a stressful legal process. However, military divorces can be even more stressful as there are unique legal requirements. Don’t navigate the intricacies associated with this type of divorce alone. You can rely on a dedicated Suffolk County divorce & separation attorney for quality legal counsel. Allow our firm to assist you today!

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