Military life may be complicated for a family. Sadly, military weddings are more likely to end in divorce than conventional marriages since the pair is forced to spend months, if not years, apart. Military divorces, regardless of how common they are, can get problematic, especially for service members posted overseas. Get a legal consultation today for information and an understanding of the complex military divorce procedure.
What is the difference between a military divorce and a civil divorce?
In a few ways, military divorce varies from non-military divorce. A strictly civilian divorce, for example, in which neither spouse is a military member, is primarily governed by the state’s laws in which the divorce is filed. When at least one spouse is a service member, the divorce is governed by state laws and federal statutes such as the USFSP (Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act) and the Federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003.
While not exhaustive, these two statutes provide non-military and service member spouses with protections and rights that state laws may not usually provide. Some examples of such distinctions include, but are not limited to:
- The SCRA prohibits filing a default divorce judgment against a service member who did not consent to the divorce or otherwise engaged in the divorce procedure.
- Different residency complexities can make determining the correct state for the divorce challenging.
- Specific requirements must be satisfied before a non-military spouse can receive the service member’s retirement benefits.
The application of the Federal Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003 is one distinction between a military and non-military divorce. A non-military spouse is barred from getting a default judgment against their active-duty military spouse. This is not like a regular divorce. In a civil divorce, one spouse (the petitioner) files for divorce and serves the other spouse (the respondent) with the papers. The petitioner spouse can get a default judgment if the respondent spouse does not answer or otherwise engage in the divorce process. Orders for child custody, child support, spousal support, and asset and debt distribution may be included.
In contrast, if the petitioner spouse wishes to divorce their active-duty military spouse, then the military spouse may request that the divorce be stayed (i.e., put on hold). This stay will last 90 days till the active-duty spouse may participate in the procedure. The court has the authority to prolong the stay beyond 90 days, but the military spouse cannot stop the divorce procedures forever.
For more information on the procedure, get the help of an expert today.