A military family divorce brings up several unique issues. Understanding the complex issues behind a military divorce will help you make better decisions for fairer outcomes. Here are some of the most common issues. Remember, a military divorce is not like other divorces; it involves additional legal issues that can only be handled by a San Diego Military Family Law Attorney.

Jurisdictional Issues

The first issue with a military divorce is one concerning jurisdiction. Where will the divorce petition be filed? A military divorce offers you three options:

  • Filing in service member’s residence state: The state of legal residency or domicile of the military member is where he or she intends to return upon discharge from service or upon retirement if member has a military career.
  • Non-military Spouse’s state of residence: A major complication with military families is that they are separated by substantial distances for long periods of time. While a non-military husband may be employed and residing in Carlsbad, his military wife may be stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Ohio is her legal residency state.
  • Filing divorce in the state where service member is stationed: To file a petition for dissolution of marriage in California with the county superior court, one of the spouses must have been a resident in California for six months and county resident for three. The non-filing spouse has to be notified of the proceeding regardless of where he or she is stationed.

Serving Active Duty Members

When a service member is on active duty, he or she may invoke legal protection from lawsuits under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The role of the SCRA is to protect active duty military members who are served with bankruptcy, divorce action or other civil lawsuits. This allows them to focus on their military roles knowing that they will have the opportunity to advocate, appear and defend themselves in a court of law later. The act allows service members to request the suspension of divorce proceeding for up to 90 days after he or she has left active service. Depending on the engagement of the service member, the SCRA provisions can delay lawsuits by even over a year.

Property Division in California

Apart from the normal California property division laws, the federal government has enacted the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), which governs the calculation of military retirement benefits calculation and division on divorce.

When getting a divorce, service members and their spouses should familiarize themselves with the legal issues around military divorces. For assistance, Fischer & Van Thiel, L.L.P., Carlsbad family lawyers, would like to discuss your case with you! Our entire legal team combines over 50 years of experience to ensure that your side is heard.

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