Just as the military has its own set of rules and culture, it also has a certain way of doing things when it comes to divorce. If you're considering a divorce from someone who is currently serving in the military, it's important that you understand the different challenges you might face.
Service Members Civil Relief Act
Given the challenges of duty, the government established the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SMCRA) to offer military members protection from legal action when they are on active duty, such as deployment.
At their liberty, the service member can activate this act to postpone any legal proceedings until a period of up to 60 days from the last date of their active duty. If your spouse is not in favor of the divorce, you need to have patience as they may use this tactic to stall the divorce, and unfortunately, they will be well within their legal rights by doing so.
Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act
While the sacrifice of the service member is the most significant, your support efforts aren't overlooked. As part of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, you may be legally entitled to certain benefits, even after the divorce is finalized. One of the most important benefits protected under this is your ability to secure a certain amount of the service member's retirement pay.
Provided you were married for at 10 years, and for at least 10 of those years your spouse served, you can be awarded a percentage of their retirement payment as part of the decree.
Unique Filing Requirements
When you're a part of the military community, home is thought to be wherever you're stationed. However, from a legal standpoint this isn't always the case. In some states, the only way to file for divorce is to become a legal resident. However, in other states, your spouse's orders are enough to allow you to file for a divorce within the state.
If you're stationed in a state that doesn't accept the military orders as enough to file for legal action, you will be required to file in your home state or the state listed on the service member's LES as their home of record.
An attorney is especially important when it comes to a military divorce considering its different requirements. An attorney will ensure you are adhering to these guidelines and most importantly, ensure your rights are protected.