Divorce can be difficult no matter what way you look at it. It is necessary to deal with difficult emotional issues as well as complex legal issues. The legal process of divorce can be a stressful and expensive experience for military personnel. However, you can ease some of that stress, time, and cost by having an understanding of what you need to consider.
You can begin by contacting the Legal Assistance Office in your area. If you’re a U.S. citizen or an international citizen, you can get free legal assistance there. Reality is sometimes way different, to be cautious, use this service.
What Your Legal Aid Office Can Do To Assist You?
Divorce is governed by state law and local procedures, but some federal statutes and military regulations may apply depending on where you file. Members of the military can get free legal advice and information from attorneys at an installation Legal Assistance Office on a variety of topics, including:
- Separation of parents and allocation of parental responsibilities
- Considerations in relation to taxes
- Civil Relief for Military Personnel Act
Legal assistance is also available to eligible family members. An attorney, on the other hand, can only give advice to either the service member or the spouse in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. The other spouse can see a different attorney in the same location or at a different site, depending on the service branch.
Legal assistance attorneys can provide information and advice, but they cannot represent their clients in court. This is an important distinction to make.
Military Servicemembers’ Legal Rights
During their time on active duty, service members’ legal rights are safeguarded thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. A certain amount of time usually elapses between when a spouse is served with divorce papers and when the other responds. The SCRA, on the other hand:
- Service members may be excused from court or administrative proceedings due to their military duties, which may necessitate an extension.
- A service member’s failure to respond to a lawsuit or appear at a trial may be protected in some cases from a default judgment.
When it comes to divorce, military legal assistance attorneys can help you understand the ramifications, and your communication with them is confidential. They can also direct you to civilian lawyer referral services outside of the government.
Divorced Military Spouses’ Rights
For divorce or legal separation cases that require civil court representation or contested issues like child custody, spousal/child support, or asset division, you’ll want to consult a civilian attorney.
The United States Armed Forces Former spouses of military personnel are entitled to certain benefits under the Federal Spouse Protection Act. Former spouses who do not remarry may be eligible for the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program’s medical, commissary, exchange, and movie theatre privileges if they meet the criteria of the so-called 20/20/20 rule:
- At the time of the divorce, dissolution, or annulment, the former spouse had been married to the military member for at least 20 years.
- To be eligible for retired pay, a military member must have served for at least 20 years (the member does not have to be retired from active duty).
- The member’s former spouse was married to the member for at least 20 years during the member’s retirement-creditable service period.