Understanding the Key Differences Between a Military and Civilian Divorce

Getting a divorce is a complicated, confusing, and emotionally draining experience even in the most common of circumstances. When one or both parties is an active duty military member, however, things can get even more complex. Whether you are the military member, or a spouse of a military member, it is important to make sure you are aware of how things will proceed with your divorce. Working with an attorney who has experience with military divorces can also help avoid problems and streamline the process. The following are some key differences between a military and a civilian divorce.

Where to File for Divorce

Military members are often deployed or stationed overseas for months or even years at a time. Determining where to file for divorce can be confusing. In most situations, the state where a couple shares a marital home is where the divorce should be filed. There can be some exceptions to this, and in some cases the couple can agree to have their divorce handled in another state of their choosing. This often happens if the divorce begins shortly after the military spouse is relocated.

Impact of deployment

If an active duty service member is currently deployed, or gets deployed during the divorce process, the case can be delayed by the courts. The delay can potentially last until the military spouse returns from deployment, which, depending on the circumstances, can be a year or even longer. While this can be difficult, the laws are in place to protect both the individuals involved, and those who rely on the military members while deployed.

Division of Assets

Those serving in the military earn a variety of benefits such as pensions, retirement funds, and more. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USEPSA), the state where the military member is residing has the ability to divide these assets up during a divorce. The spouse of a service member will only be eligible to receive certain continued benefits if they were married for a certain length of time. For example, a couple must have been married at least 20 years in order to receive continued health care, commissary and exchange benefits, and other medical coverages.

Experience is Essential

If you are considering divorce as either a military member, or the spouse of a military member, you need to make sure your attorney has experience in this area. Since the divorce can be influenced by both state and federal laws, an attorney needs to be able to carefully navigate through the process to avoid problems. Contact Amsberry Law Firm to discuss your options and determine the right course of action for your military divorce.

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Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.

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