Divorce cases where one or both spouses are in the military can be complicated. A military divorce must address the same issues as a civilian divorce including alimony, distribution of assets, child support, and child custody. Unlike a civilian divorce, a military divorce has certain considerations when one or both spouses serve our country and may be away on duty while a court case is pending. At Paris P. Eliades Law Firm, LLC, we are proud to represent military service members who are not able to attend court cases because they are on active duty. Contact Paris P. Eliades Law Firm, LLC for a consultation today.
Military divorce residency requirements
Similar to all divorces, a military divorce must fulfill a residency requirement in order to establish jurisdiction over a case. The United States judicial system understands that military members may not be able to establish residencies as easily as their civilian peers because they move around and are often away for long periods of time serving our country. Accordingly, residency requirements for military members have some special consideration. Under current laws, a military member or spouse of one can file for divorce:
- In the state where the couple has legal residence
- In the state where the military member claims legal residence
- In the state where the military member is stationed
Serving papers to a servicemember
Like any civilian divorce, the defendant must be served papers. In the case where a spouse needs to serve papers to a servicemember, the issue becomes complicated. Most military bases have a designated official who handles legal matters for the base and acts as a law enforcement officer. The person being served papers must be willing to accept the serve and if they do not, they can request a “stay” on the divorce, prolonging the process. Though they cannot stop the divorce forever, it is their right to put the divorce on hold while their duty stops them from participating.
Military members are protected against default judgment
In a civilian divorce process, if the other party does not act or answer the Complaint for Divorce, the case can proceed without them, culminating a default judgment. This is usually a binding legal verdict in favor of one party based on the inaction of the other. If a spouse does not show up for a court date, they are usually in default. An active servicemember is protected under The Service Member Relief Act. This states that, while a servicemember is actively serving the country and may not be able to address the divorce case, there may be no judgment on the divorce or family law matter without their presence or the presence of legal representation. This is especially important for servicemembers who are involved in a child custody or support case. In child custody cases, the law provides flexibility for the military member who has been absent for 30 days or more because of deployment or recovery of a service-related injury or illness.
Military pension explained
One’s military pension is also a complicated matter. According to the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act of 1982, New Jersey courts can treat military pension as marital property and distribute it equitably with the rest of the assets. As part of the Act, The 10/10 rule states that you are eligible for a portion of the divided military pay sent to you directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service if you were married for at least 10 years and your military spouse served for at least 10 years.
Contact an attorney that can guide you through a military divorce
If you are a service member or the spouse of one inquiring about divorce, you deserve the quality legal services of Paris P. Eliades Law Firm, LLC. Our committed attorneys are ready to guide you through your military divorce and help protect your rights, your family, and your assets while you serve our country or are divorcing a spouse who is on duty. Divorce can be an emotional ordeal and our compassionate firm is ready to ease you through the process. Contact Paris P. Eliades Law Firm, LLC for your consultation.