COMMON ISSUES IN MILITARY DIVORCE
Whether you are a member of the armed services or the spouse of a service member, you may face specific issues in the divorce process that are different from those faced by civilians.
Whether you are a member of the armed services or the spouse of a service member, you may face specific issues in the divorce process. It is important to know what you are entitled to and how to best choose an attorney.
JurisdIction issues over military members
In order to grant a divorce, one of the first considerations will be whether Tennessee has jurisdiction over you and/or your spouse. Divorce jurisdiction in Tennessee requires that one or both spouses reside in Tennessee for at least six (6) months immediately preceding filing the Complaint for Divorce. Therefore, this means you must actually live in Tennessee before filing the divorce in this state. Surprisingly, the state or city that the military considers your home or your residence does not always have proper jurisdiction.
If you are uncertain whether Tennessee has jurisdiction to grant your divorce, you should contact an attorney for guidance.
Service Members civil relief act (SCRA)
If the service member is deployed at the time the divorce is ongoing, he or she may be entitled to certain protections based on the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA protects service members on certain duty statuses from default judgments in civil litigation, which would include a divorce action. The SCRA also provides many other protections and can operate to suspend a civil proceeding.
Child support in a military family
If you are the spouse of a service member, every branch of the military has provisions requiring the support of dependents by the service member. You may be eligible for support without the need of a court order. The support amount is usually based on a differential amount of the service member’s BAH or a percentage of pay. However, these regulations do not allow for the military command to divert the service member’s pay to the spouse. If the service member fails to pay support, he or she could be punished under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. Alternatively, you may obtain a court order for support either through filing a Complaint for Divorce or a Petition to establish child support.
Child custody and visitation schedules may be complicated by the service member’s overseas duties, deployments, or just by distant duty stations or frequent relocations.
Military retirement benefits can be divided in a divorce, even if the service member is not yet eligible for retirement. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) allows for military retirement to be treated as a marital asset and to be divided in divorce. The division of the retirement pay is within the discretion of the state court with jurisdiction.
Contact an experienced divorce attorney for a military divorce
These are just a few of the myriad issues that divorcing spouses may face when one or both of them are members of the military. If you find yourself facing a military divorce, it is important to find an attorney familiar with these and other issues that face military families. The attorneys of Collins Legal have experience with military families and their specific needs. Contact Collins Legal today for a consultation.
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