If Your Spouse Files for Divorce While on Deployment


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Even under the best of circumstances a marriage can be difficult and often times will not work out. Being a service member whose duty at times requires overseas deployment for long periods of time can lend even more strain.

Many stateside spouses begin to have reservations questioning their desire to remain in the marriage. This sometimes inevitably leads to the spouse filing for divorce. If this problematic situation arises while on deployment, there are a number of things that can take place:

ē Possibly place the proceedings on hold until your return.
ē File a petition requesting a 90 day extension to respond.

During this time
Military divorces are very unique situations that require taking very specific steps. The spouse must file in the state in which you both reside. Residency requirements cannot be overlooked or avoided and the filing spouse will not be able to proceed without following these very specific rules. The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects service members while on active duty.

More about the SCRA
The SCRA, established under federal law provides legal protection for members against lawsuits and divorces while on deployment. This is to better help them devote their time and energy to defending the Nation without the added stress and worry of stateside matters. Proceedings will generally remain delayed during the service memberís active duty and an additional 60 days upon their return. The tedious process and rules of divorce remain the same and do not change. Children and property, as well as the service memberís pension will all be taken into consideration.

Dependent upon where the divorce is filed, complicated state and federal laws that are in place will determine how things are divided. Some benefits may be automatic for the spouse including commissary, medical and exchange benefits if the member has served over 20 years, or if their marriage has lasted over 20 years. These benefits will terminate if the spouse remarries. Obligations of child support are taken very seriously and the military takes extra precautions to ensure that their service members are honoring them.

Without question, it is best to contact an attorney immediately. Both a military and civilian attorney that is well-versed in these types of situations should be consulted with to best protect you, your assets and your best interests. Military pensions are governed under a different set of laws than that of a standard pension. Regulated by the Uniformed Services Former Spousal Protection Act (USFSPA) very specific rules are in place that must be followed. Depending upon the terms of the divorce, the spouse may not be entitled to a memberís pension. Good counsel that knows how to navigate and handle the settlement in these sensitive situations can make an incredible difference. Overseas duty can be stressful enough without the added weight of bad news that can severely impact service and welfare. Readily available counsel to help and act on your behalf until your return can alleviate extra stress and worry that you donít need.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel M. Copeland
At Daniel M. Copeland, Attorney at Law, P.A. our attorneys have the skills and knowledge to effectively handle all types of family-related issues. As a family-owned and operated firm located conveniently in Jacksonville, FL, we think of every client as a member of our family. We can help you get through this difficult time and get started on your new future.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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