Preparing for divorce while serving in the US military?

On behalf of South Tampa Law Group posted in blog on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

As a member of the U.S. military in Florida, you understand how challenging it can be when military life and civilian life conflict with one another. For instance, if you’re one of many military members who currently happen to be preparing for divorce, there are federal, state and military regulations that may impact your situation. Just thinking about trying to keep it all straight may be enough to make your head spin! While you want to fulfill your military obligations, you also want to achieve a fair settlement.

It’s understandable that you don’t want one aspect of your life to negative affect the other. The good news is you are not the first military service member to divorce nor is it likely that you’ll be the last. There are already support networks in place to help you overcome any obstacles that arise and secure a smooth transition into the next phase of your life. There are also useful facts to remember as you navigate the divorce process from a military standpoint.

The Service members Civil Relief Act

The law protects you by prohibiting divorce proceedings or lawsuits against you while you are serving on active duty. In fact, the protection provided through the SCRA extends 60 days beyond your return from active service. It can be quite stressful to try to focus on military obligations overseas while someone stateside is suing you; thus, the SCRA ensures that it won’t happen.

Military legal residence as opposed to civilian-based residence

For civilians, their permanent states of residence determine which court has jurisdiction over divorce. While you may have a permanent home off base somewhere, you may also have a legal residence when you are stationed away from home. The court in your legal residence location may be able to hear your divorce case.

State laws apply wherever divorce is filed

Whether your divorce is filed in a permanent residence state or you exercise another option, the bottom line is that wherever you or your spouse file for divorce, the state laws therein apply to property division, alimony, child support and other important matters.

Understand property division regarding military pensions

It’s critical that you understand the property division laws of the state with jurisdiction over your divorce. Is it a community property state or does it govern such matters through equitable division laws? It’s also of paramount importance that you clearly understand that your military pension may be subject to marital property division.

Other pertinent factors

Depending on how long you were married, your former spouse may also retain commissary, medical and exchange privileges following your divorce. If you’re a parent, you likely already have a military family care plan. Now that you’re getting divorced, it’s a good idea to incorporate any and all important issues regarding custody, visitation and other issues into your plan. Many Florida military members turn to experienced family law attorneys for help to do so.