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What Is the Difference Between a Military and Civilian Divorce?

Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represent Divorcing Military and Civilian Couples.

It is not surprising that the divorce rate for military couples is somewhat higher because of the ever-changing job responsibilities and locations. When a military couple decides to part ways, the process is a bit more involved.

Military Divorces Can Take Longer

The timelines for military divorces depend on whether or not the service member is deployed. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) comes into play, protecting deployed military members from having to face civil litigation processes at home while they are on missions. Service members can apply for filing extensions, and courts often delay final rulings until both spouses are present. While this might be beneficial for the deployed spouse, an at-home one might end up waiting for a long period of time. It can also take longer to serve the divorce papers, especially when a spouse is overseas.

Where Should the Divorce Be Filed?

Divorce complaints can only be filed in courts that have jurisdiction, and this is determined on a state-by-state basis and not by the military. There is usually a residency requirement for the state and county that is filed in; these will apply to either party. If you live in Baltimore and your spouse is stationed in another country, you can file in Baltimore.

When divorcing military spouses live in different states, it might make sense to file in the military spouse’s state. This is because the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) stipulates that the military member’s current state of residence takes precedence over how the military pension is divided. Other states might have other laws that apply, and those could cause complications.

What About Spousal Support?

The USFSPA also requires military members to follow state statutes on alimony; these also dictate the final amounts that will be paid. Service members can classify military retirement pay as income or property, and civilian spouses must have been married to military members for at least 10 years to receive a portion. If the marriage lasted 20 years or longer, former spouses could still access military benefits, including health care and commissary.

The service member’s alimony paycheck deductions cannot exceed 50 to 65 percent of the disposable income. This applies to child support as well, but keep in mind that alimony and retirement benefits will end if the receiving spouse remarries.

Child Visitation and Support

This is often a topic of contention with divorced military couples, particularly when the service member is deployed. The SCRA can delay child custody proceedings, but the final decision will focus on the child’s overall best interests. Many military parents are in positions to assume primary custody, but no matter which parent assumes this, there must be a formalized family care plan that details the specifics.

Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represent Divorcing Military and Civilian Couples

A divorcing military couple faces certain challenges that can be overcome with experienced legal counsel. For a free, confidential consultation, contact Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Our experienced Baltimore County divorce lawyers can represent your interests and fight to protect your rights. Call us at 443-589-0150 or complete our online form. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.

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