As a Clearwater divorce lawyer who served 8 years in the armed forces, I am uniquely aware of the particular stresses and strains on a military family. The possibility of deployment to a foreign country or the continual re-assignments can cause havoc on a military family. Sometimes the strain can become too much and the couple decides to divorce.
When a service member marries, he/she makes better wages and the spouse receives military benefits. Sometimes, this can lead to couples deciding to marry hastily and without fully exploring issues of compatibility and the military lifestyle.
When divorce is considered, it’s important to hire an attorney who has a working knowledge of the military and how it operates. The culture is different from civil society and there are factors that should be considered in a military divorce case.
For instance, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act helps protect service members’ legal rights when called to active duty. It applies to active-duty members of the regular forces, members of the National Guard when serving in an active-duty status under federal orders, members of the reserve called to active duty and members of the Armed Services, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Health and the Coast Guard serving on active duty in support of the armed forces.
In regard to divorce proceedings, service members may obtain a “stay” or postponement of a civil court or administrative proceedings if they can show their military service prevents them from either asserting or protecting a legal right such as an upcoming deployment. This is not an automatic right, and a military judge must find there good cause to do so, based on the justification provided by the military member.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a federal law that provides certain benefits to former spouses of military members. The benefits may affect receipt of retirement pay and medical care, as well as the use of the exchanges and commissaries.
If you or your soon-to-be ex-spouse is contemplating a divorce, contact a divorce attorney that has served in the military. As I’ve mentioned briefly, there are federal provisions that apply specifically to military service members in matters of divorce. A lawyer with no service background may be unfamiliar or unaware of these provisions and it could cost you time and money.