Even the most straightforward divorce has its fair share of challenges, and with each new factor you introduce, it only gets more complicated. Military divorces have their own unique issues and problems, and it’s important to think about how you’ll address these concerns as you prepare to file.
Having an attorney with experience in military divorces can help you save time, money, and stress. Call Kirk Drennan Law at 205-953-1424 to set up a consultation with our team of passionate, experienced divorce attorneys.
One complication that comes up in many military divorces is the question of residency. In civilian marriages, you file for divorce where you live, assuming that you meet the state’s residency requirements. In military divorces, where one spouse may be regularly deployed or serving on another base, they may not meet residency requirements in any specific state.
Under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, they are considered legal residents of the state in which they vote and pay taxes. However, that may be an entirely different state from where their spouse lives. In that situation, how assets and debts are divided up may change depending on who actually files for divorce.
Military benefits are another sticking point in many divorces. While military pay may not be as high as it should be at most ranks, the benefits are worth mentioning. Tricare, commissary and exchange privileges, and housing benefits are dependent on a person’s relationship with a service member. During a divorce, a civilian spouse could be on the hook for a lot of money if they have to pay for lower-quality healthcare coverage, move out of on-base housing, and start funding their own retirement.
In some situations, a divorcing spouse can continue to receive all of these benefits, plus a portion of their ex’s retirement benefits. They must meet the 20/20/20 rule—the marriage must have lasted at least 20 years, the service member must have served at least 20 years before the split, and there must be at least 20 years of overlap between the marriage and the military service. Obviously, this applies to a fairly small amount of military marriages, but it does warrant mentioning. It’s also important to note that if the civilian spouse remarries, they lose all of these benefits.
Child Custody and Support
One of the most challenging aspects of military divorce is child custody. The courts generally prefer that a child spend consistent, ongoing time with both parents—but how is that possible if one parent regularly ships out on deployments or works on other bases? The military lifestyle is known for being hectic and unpredictable, which can be very hard on children who thrive on routine.
In many cases, the parent who raised the children while the service member worked continues to serve as the primary caretaker. This means working out a fair visitation schedule that accounts for the service member’s military obligations and their duty to their children. It may include video calls and phone calls in addition to in-person visits at every opportunity. On top of that, child support is typically awarded to the custodial parent.
Why You Need an Attorney
Military divorces can become complicated very quickly, especially if there’s infidelity, abuse, or any behavior that the military frowns upon amongst its service members. As you prepare to transition out of the military lifestyle and start anew, make sure you have the right legal support guiding you through your divorce.
A divorce attorney with experience handling military divorces can help explain what you’ll lose in the split, what you may hope to gain, and what important decisions you’ll have to make. They will also be able to explain how those decisions will affect you and your children in different ways, empowering you to make the best choices for your family.
Choose Kirk Drennan Law for Your Divorce
The team at Kirk Drennan Law is committed to helping people like you navigate divorce with as little stress and worry as possible. Whether or not this divorce is your choice, make sure you have what you need for a fresh start. Call us at 205-953-1424 or send us a quick message and schedule your consultation now.