As Americans, we owe so much to the members of the various branches of the military. Military spouses are also essential, as they provide much-needed support at home to help the military service members pursue their essential function for our country. Unfortunately, this support network does not always work in the long run, and a divorce could be on the horizon. There are special considerations for military divorces that you need to take into account.
First, parties to a military divorce need to remember the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Although there are many elements to the Act, one of the most important is the stay of proceedings. If a military service member is on deployment, the spouse who stayed behind cannot proceed with the divorce against the wishes of the deployed service member. In other civil suits, a person’s failure to respond or appear at a final hearing date would result in the appearing spouse winning a default judgment. The Act keeps this from happening. That said, if the parties come to a total settlement on the issues in their divorce, the court may still grant the divorce if both parties agree.
The non-service member also has certain protections. For example, the non-service member spouse can continue to receive medical and commissary privileges unless and until he or she remarries under what is known as the 20/20/20 rule. To qualify for this, the following three must apply: 1) parties have been married for at least twenty years; 2) service member performed at least twenty years of service that are creditable for retirement pay; and 3) there is at least twenty years of overlap between the military service and the parties’ marriage.
It is also important to remember that just because a service member is involved in a divorce, it does not mean that the court will automatically side with that person purely because of military service. In other words, the military member will still need to produce the same amount and type of proof regarding essential divorce issues such as property division or child custody and visitation. Parents arguing about custody and visitation issues should also keep imminent deployments in mind when crafting a proposal for custody.
We are familiar with all types of issues regarding both military and non-military divorces. Call us at 651-371-9117 for a consultation to talk about your family.