For the most part, a military divorce follows the same rules and procedures as a divorce between two civilians. However, there are some substantial differences that can greatly impact the outcome of a divorce and the contentious issues between the spouses. If you or a loved one is considering or going through a military divorce, it is essential to know what makes this a unique process. Keep reading to learn more.
#1: Where You File for Divorce Is a Tricky Question
For most couples, it is easy to identify the state and court where they should file for divorce. One party must make the initial filing for divorce, even in an uncontested divorce. That individual must be a resident of the state where they file, which limits the filing options to a single state. The considerations for a military divorce are very different.
A military couple could have been married and raised children in one state, own property in a second state, and live on a military base in Montgomery County, Tennessee. A military family also moves frequently and may not have lived long enough in their current state to qualify for residency there. So, a military divorce may not take place in the same state where the couple lives.
As well, states vary greatly on their laws and policies regarding military pensions, which we will cover in greater detail later in this post. For many active duty servicemembers, where to file for a military divorce is based, in part, on these laws. If you are uncertain how your state of residency or where you live treats military pensions, speak with a divorce lawyer in your area.
#2: Court Timelines Can Change for Active Duty Servicemembers
In most divorce cases, there are strict requirements for responses and court filing. After one party files for divorce, the other spouse only has a certain amount of time to respond and so on. This can be very different for a military divorce in Montgomery County. When a servicemember is on active duty during a military divorce, the court will make exceptions and revisions to the timeframe for filings, appearances, and alternative dispute meetings or conferences between the parties.
#3: Paying Child Support Is Mandated by the Military
Payment of spousal and child support after a divorce is mandatory for civilian and military couples. The party ordered to pay must make the payments or there can be legal consequences. If a spouse to a divorce in Montgomery County is also serving in the military, the repercussions of not paying spousal or child support are even more substantial.
It is a requirement of the military that servicemembers support their children. There is no exception and all branches of the military take this imposition very seriously. The military can impose its own set of punishments and ramifications on a servicemember who fails to comply with support orders from a divorce court. These punishments can include sanctions in a military court or from superior officers, including separation from the military.
#4: Deployment Makes Questions of Custody a Huge Concern
Constant moves, deployment, and other requirements of active duty make a military divorce with children incredibly difficult. Child custody and visitation issues are heightened for an active duty servicemember. Not only is it difficult to make long-term custody and visitation arrangements because of regular transfers to different military bases and deployment can make visitation impossible.
All parties to a military divorce need to determine how to handle one spouse’s transfer to another state, deployment, and other expected aspects of active duty. This can become a very sensitive issue in a military divorce, as issues around children are already contentious and complex, and it is extremely helpful to have a lawyer that regularly works with military servicemembers.
#5: You Need to Address Division of Your Military Pension
In a civil divorce, there are complicated questions regarding marital assets and the division of property. In a military divorce, these issues are compounded because of the special benefits provided to deserving servicemembers. The military, similar to any other employer, provides benefits to its employees, active duty military personnel. These benefits can be substantial after a career in the military.
One benefit that is particular to the military is the military pension, and division of military pension during a military divorce can be a nightmare. How a military pension is divided is dependent on the laws in the state where the couple files for divorce. Among the states and territories where military pensions are divided between the spouses, there are two major approaches to the division: a lump sum paid at the time of the divorce or a delayed payment made at the end of the servicemember’s career in the military.
In addition, certain states require the court to calculate the portion of the military pension that was accrued during the marriage, as only that part of the military pension is marital property. Again, whether or not this applies to your military divorce depends on state law.
Want to Know More About Military Divorce?
If you are living or based in Montgomery County, Tennessee or the surrounding areas, our team at Surber, Asher, Suber & Moushon, PLLC is prepared to help with your military divorce. We have a robust practice dedicated specifically to military and solder divorces and a strong understanding of the special issues that impact active duty members of the military. To learn more, contact us at (615) 997-1908.