As a former Navy wife that comes from a military family, I love working with service members and their spouses. We have been representing military families in their divorces for many years. There are certain issues that are raised both in civilian and military divorces, but divorces are different for military families as these issues are quite distinct.
Here are 8 top issues to keep in mind:
#1 – There may be an issue determining the residence of the service member. When filing for a divorce in California, you must be a resident of the state for at least six months before filing for a divorce, or you must be stationed in the state of California. You can be a California resident even if you are stationed outside of California.
#2 – Some people have an issue with personally serving the service member with the divorce paperwork should their spouse be the petitioner. After the petition for divorce is filed, you must personally serve your spouse with this paperwork, Keep in mind that locating the service member to be personally served may be difficult. If we are handling the case or mediation or collaboration, this becomes much easier.
#3 – You may notice some problems with determining child custody with the military spouse. Generally, custody is awarded by the best interest of the child standard, and deployment and mobility of the service member may affect how custody is affected. However, a service member may in fact be the parent that has primary custody of the child.
#4 – Another issue that arises is property division. There will be discussions as to how the military pension is divided and whether a spouse qualifies for medical benefits and the commissary after the divorce.
#5 – If a service member is on active duty status, there may be protections that are provided to them through the Soldiers and Sailors Act. For example, you are not able to default a service member without providing them with counsel.
#6 – Child support and spousal support are also calculated differently in military divorces, and you must have an attorney that is familiar with reading an LES and is able to accurately calculate child support and spousal support based on military pay.
#7 – Since many of our clients are stationed outside of the state of California during the time of their divorce, we have been set up to communicate with them electronically and have the courts give authorization for them to also appear at the hearings electronically.
#8 – There may be times that a former spouse is still entitled to military benefits after the divorce, or survivors benefits, in cases where they are awarded a portion of the pension. There also may be times that we need to coordinate with the JAG office, although JAG does not provide counsel for divorces.
Having an attorney that works regularly with military families is imperative so that you know your rights and can protect yourself.
If you have any questions about military divorce, please do not hesitate to shoot us an email or give us a call.