The high number of divorces involving members of the military is something that is frequently studied as researchers attempt to discover the reason why divorce and military service have become so intertwined. Over time, federal laws designed to protect service members and their spouses were introduced to keep military divorces fair for both partners. A civilian spouse who is married to a service member for at least 20 years is able to retain certain benefits (health benefits, base access, etc.) after a divorce. However, there are potential problems associated with an active duty military divorce of which a spouse should be aware.
Military members who are able to provide proof that they are active duty are able to request a stay on divorce proceedings. The ability to postpone legal proceedings involving court hearings is part of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The act is designed to help members of the armed forces avoid having judgments entered against them because they are physically unable to attend court while serving the country. If your spouse decides to request a stay, your divorce can be delayed for 90 days or longer. The court proceedings can resume after your spouse becomes available, but waiting is often stressful and demoralizing.
If you and your spouse were living in military housing, both parties will have to vacate the house. A civilian spouse may remain in the home if necessary and the active duty spouse is not able to evict the spouse or children. Once the divorce is finalized, the spouse will have to leave base housing, and if the civilian spouse leaves before the divorce is completed, the service member has 30 days from the time the spouse moves out to vacate the housing. In situations in which the couple divorces while overseas or at a duty station far away from their state of residence, the civilian spouse may have trouble getting the military to pay relocation expenses.
The decision to get a divorce is not one that is made lightly, and many adults who have come to the difficult conclusion that ending their marriage is the best choice for them do not want to discuss their choice immediately. Unfortunately, military couples often find that getting divorced privately is not always an option. Not only will the individuals in your immediate circle become involved in your divorce, it is possible that your spouse’s commanding officers and coworkers will begin offering unasked for advice. In some cases, you and your spouse will be asked to participate in on-base marriage counseling. Though they might be attempting to help, the additional scrutiny can make the entire situation more difficult to cope with.
Contact an Attorney
No divorce is easy, and when a military spouse who is active duty or retired is involved, things become more complicated. The best way to protect yourself is to contact a divorce attorney to discuss your situation and needs. The attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum understand the complexity of military divorces and a prepared to provide you with the quality legal representation you need. Contact one of our four Atlanta area locations today to schedule a consultation.