As a military spouse seeking a divorce, you need to be aware that military divorces differ from civilian divorces. There are certain rules that can impact every aspect of the divorce from the filing stage to child custody. If you are planning to file for divorce from your military spouse, here is what you need to know.
Where Can You File for Divorce?
With military divorces, you have to file your divorce within the right jurisdiction or else face possible challenges with receiving benefits from your spouse's retirement plan. There are strict rules in place that require court orders regarding retirement plans be filed in the right jurisdiction to be enforceable.
To ensure that any orders passed by the court are enforceable, you need to file for divorce in the state in which your spouse is domiciled or is a resident. If you want to file in another state, your spouse has to agree to that and commit in writing.
If your spouse is challenging whether or not the state in which you filed is his or her domicile, you can object to his or claims. You have to present proof that he or she is domiciled there. For instance, you could point to his or her ownership of a home in the state or to the state listed on his or her income tax return.
How Is Custody Determined?
In a civilian divorce, creating a parenting agreement is just a part of the process. In a military divorce, this can be a bit more challenging. Issues such as deployments and relocations can impact the custodial arrangement worked out by the parents.
Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to reach a basic agreement. In addition to the basics, you and your spouse need to factor in situations such as no-notice deployments and short-term custody. If your spouse is relocated to a different base, you will also need to work out an arrangement to handle the relocation.
Working out an agreement now is beneficial to you. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, your spouse may receive a 90-day stay on any custodial-related court matters. He or she could even ask for longer and be awarded that time. The act is designed to protect the parental rights of servicemembers, but it can put custodial matters on hold indefinitely.
To fully understand what challenges you could face when divorcing a military spouse, work with an attorney who has experience with military law.