A military divorce (i.e. a divorce where one or both spouses are members of the military) is procedurally no different from any other divorce; however, there are some issues unique to military divorces that are important to be aware of. Several of these issues are discussed below, but for case specific information be sure to contact a local divorce attorney.
Here in the United States divorces are governed on a state-by-state basis. This means that each state gets to make up their own rules about when a divorce will be granted, how assets are to be divided, how child custody and parenting plans will be determined, when spousal support will be granted, etc. Therefore, when given a choice (i.e. when multiple states have jurisdiction), it is important to file your divorce in a state that has divorce laws well suited to your needs.
Each state has their own rules about who is eligible to file for divorce within their court system, but generally speaking you can file for divorce in a state where you or your spouse currently reside. This may seem simple enough, but in fact determining residency in military divorces is often quite complicated because military families tend to move frequently. Therefore, it is a good idea for anyone seeking a military divorce to consult with an experienced divorce attorney straight away to discuss the residency and jurisdictional aspects of their divorce in order to ensure that they file for divorce in the most beneficial state possible.
Child Custody and Parenting Plans
Unless the divorcing couple can amicably agree to a child custody arrangement and parenting plan, the battle of who gets custody of the children and how much time each parent gets to spend with the children often takes center stage in divorce court. These already complicated issues can become even more complex in military divorces given the uncertainty of when the service member parent(s) will be deployed overseas or stationed out of state. Therefore, military couples often need to come up with a few different parenting plans in case one parent is deployed abroad or transferred far away for a period of time.
Members of the armed forces are often entitled to significant benefits, some of which ex-spouses are entitled to share in. For example, thanks to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) states can treat military pensions as marital property, rather than separate property, and apportion it among divorcing spouses. Additionally, payment of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Payment of Basic Allowance for Sustenance (BAS) can also be partially apportioned to an ex-spouse. Members of the armed forces receive a wide variety of benefits that civilians do not and dividing these assets often greatly complicates military divorces.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Whether you are seeking a military divorce or a civilian divorce it is important that you consult with a local divorce attorney as soon as possible in order to best protect your legal interests. Here at the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins we have extensive experience handling divorces, and other related family law matters, throughout Michigan and would be happy to discuss your legal options with you during a confidential initial consultation. To schedule a meeting contact our Bloomfield Hills office today at (248) 646-7980.