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Filing for Military Divorce

Life as a military family often brings about specific and different challenges that civilian families do not understand. The military family way of life includes the possibility of deployments, unpredictable changes, sudden shifts, and uncertainty. Under any conditions, marriage is a challenging and difficult undertaking, but it brings with it more difficulties when one or both spouses are involved in military life. Special and unique circumstances apply to a divorce if a military spouse wants to end a marriage. The selection of a divorce venue can prove complicated for a family that has lived in other states. A marriage certificate in one state, employment in several states, the likelihood of possession of property in several states, and a decision to divorce in another state can be complicated when the choice of venue is necessary in the military divorce proceedings.

Where You File for Military Divorce Matters

Unlike regular divorces, both federal and state laws govern and have jurisdiction over military divorces. The determination regarding where a military divorce is filed will impact a substantial amount of the rest of the proceedings, so it is critical that this state is chosen with a great deal of thought and care. The venue (place chosen for the military divorce) will govern issues such as child support, spousal support, and perhaps even the division of property between the spouses. Some of the ways that a military divorce venue can impact a military divorce includes the following:

  • Military Pension: The Uniformed Services Form Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) indicates that any military pension must be divided according to the specific state laws in which the military member is a legal resident. If a military divorce occurs outside of the state in which the military member is a legal resident, the state may not have the legal authority or jurisdiction to divide a military pension.
  • Child Support and Custody: The state in which the military divorce occurs will dictate the child support payment calculations as well as child custody issues. The state of North Carolina has adopted the Uniform Deployed Parent Custody and Visitation Act which states the following three important items:
    1. Parents should attempt to reach an agreement regarding any deployed custody issues
    2. In certain cases, nonparents may have the legal right to exercise the custody rights of the deployed parent, and
    3. The courts will expedite any child custody issue in the courts if there is evidence that one parent will be immediately deployed as a military service member.
    The passage of this act was significant because it allowed military service members the ability to choose persons other than family members to care for their child in their place if they were called to active duty and/or deployment. This allows a military service member the benefit of choosing the person they feel is best to take care of their child other than a family member or relative of the child by marriage. The downside to this is that a military service member could choose someone such as a new girlfriend or someone who is just a friend with no childcare experience to be responsible for their child in their place. If you are considering getting a military divorce, it is critical that you understand how this law may affect you, your co-parent, and your child for child custody reasons.
  • Spousal Support: Any spousal support (also known as alimony) payments will need to be made according to the guidelines of the particular state.
Venues are Available for Military Divorce

The venue that a military service member decides upon regarding their divorce proceedings will largely impact most of the divorce proceedings. There are typically three different venues that a military service member and their spouse have the ability to choose from to govern their divorce. These three venues include the following:

  • The state where the military service member is stationed presently.
  • The state where the military service member has legal residency.
  • The state where the non-military service member spouse currently resides, if different from the military member spouse.

These military divorce venues allow for several options for the military service member and his or her spouse, and allow them to determine what the best venue for their specific situation will be regarding child custody, child support, spousal support, and the equitable division of property.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney

If you need expert legal advice regarding your military divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at 704.370.2828 or online today for your initial consultation. We can help ensure that your legal rights and the legal rights of your children are protected.