Let’s face it, divorce can be a lengthy, complicated and inconvenient process – and that’s just to describe civilian divorce; members of the military are subject to a far more complex legal framework. If you or your spouse are members of the military and wish to file a divorce, you might want to consider the following aspects.
Jurisdiction is defined as a legal geographical boundary governed by specific statutes. Naturally, a key component of divorce involves determining proper jurisdiction, but this is often a gray area for members of the military. Often times, servicemen and women live in one state but legally reside in another. It is important to note that the right attorney will be able to file for divorce in the correct jurisdiction at an appropriate time by considering active duty and other extenuating circumstances.
Typically, a court will order one spouse to contribute to the financial livelihood of the other if an inequality is created as a result of the divorce. This depends on many factors, such as the assets and income of each spouse – which are very difficult to determine for members of the military. Taxable income (pay), housing allowances and disability pay are just a few of the factors that courts must consider. In addition, there are separate military codes that require servicemen and women to provide financial support to military members and maintain reasonable relationships. It is important to choose an attorney that is already familiar with these concepts in order to save time and money.
Division of Marital Assets (Equitable Distribution)
Marital assets are assets that may legally be shared between two spouses as a result of a marriage. If the couple chooses to divorce, courts are tasked with determining an equitable distribution of these assets. In military divorce, one asset that raises concern is military retirement pay.
In the United States, if a spouse has been married to a member of the military for 10 or more years and that member has served 10 or more simultaneous years in the military, then the other spouse is eligible for direct payment from the U.S Government. Other factors such as military leave are also considered when calculating equitable distribution.
Beginning a new relationship before a divorce judgement is final is a form of infidelity and is considered unethical and immoral by several branches of the military. Although you and your spouse may be separated, it is important to check with your respective branch before beginning a relationship while legally married.
As you can see, there are additional details to factor when considering a military divorce. However, choosing competent legal representation can make a big difference in the length and outcome of the divorce. For more information, schedule a consultation with Liebenhaut Law and be sure to keep up with our blog.