Divorce is never an easy experience for anyone to go through and, for military families, this process differs in some ways and absolutely calls for the assistance of an experienced attorney who knows how to navigate such cases. With an attorney who understands the complex issues that are often involved in a military divorce, you will be better able to make wise decisions and seek fairer outcomes.
Here is what you need to know about military divorce as you move forward:
- Filing for divorce: The law generally allows the filing of a divorce to take place in the state where the husband or wife has a legal residence and, as such, the person initiating the divorce will typically file in the state where he or she lives when it is the legal residence of one or both parties. This is hardly unique to military divorce. What is unique, however, is how the state handles the division of military pensions. According to federal law, the state of the legal residence of the military member always has the power to divide the military pension in a divorce. Therefore, if the non-military spouse files for divorce in a state that is his or her legal residence and not the legal residence of the spouse, the court might not have the authority to divide the pension.
- Length of a divorce: Typically, when a spouse files for divorce, the other must file a formal response within a specific timeframe. However, for active duty service members, the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows them to request a stay, which essentially delays proceedings if their duties prevent them from participating in or responding to court action. The initial stay can last for at least 90 days, but the divorce cannot be postponed indefinitely.
- Determining child support: Child support is determined by state law and typically based on the total entitlements of the service member, which includes base pay, basic allowance for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, and any special pays. Once this amount is set by the court, only the court can change it. For military families, it is crucial that the court understands the elements involved in a service member’s pay and to understand the potential for those amounts to change based on deployments, base transfers, and other factors.
- Health care coverage: The non-military spouse has two possible options after a divorce. First, they can opt for no-cost coverage under TRICARE if the marriage lasted for at least 20 years during the service member’s active service. Their other option is to buy conversion health coverage if they do not qualify for TRICARE. This is called the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP).
Military divorces involve some unique legal issues, so make sure you hire an attorney who is skilled in these types of divorces as soon as possible to ensure you do not run into any avoidable snags throughout the process.
San Diego Military Divorce Attorney
At Law & Mediation Firm of Klueck & Hoppes, APC, we have over 25 years of professional experience in handling a wide range of family law issues, including military divorces. Our San Diego legal team understands the unique needs of individuals in the military and their loved ones. For the reliable legal assistance you deserve, reach out to our firm today.
Call us at (619) 577-4900 for a free consultation.