When Divorce Affects Servicemembers
While the laws concerning divorce are usually governed by the state, certain federal legislation applies to servicemen and servicewomen seeking a divorce. Federal guidelines concerning military divorce can affect where the divorce proceedings will occur, how the other party may be served, under what circumstances a postponement may take place and other elements of a divorce.
These provisions for military divorces supplement laws on the books for divorce in the state of Florida. In this regard, the requirements that apply to civilian couples also apply in situations involving military divorce. This confluence of federal and state legislation can add a layer of complexity to divorce proceedings that can be difficult to navigate.
Unique Aspects Of Military Divorces
Grounds for filing a military divorce are the same as any other divorce in Florida. The marriage is either irretrievably broken or one party is mentally incapacitated. In order to be eligible for a divorce in Florida, a military member must either be stationed in the state or have been a resident of the state for at least six months.
Other aspects of divorce laws, however, are more complex for servicemembers than they are for civilians. Special considerations that need to be considered when proceeding with a military divorce include:
- Retirement benefits. Courts in most states, including Florida, treat a military pension as a marital asset. Retirement benefits and divorce for military couples can be affected by length of military service, the length of the marriage and how many years the marriage overlapped with the term of military service.
- Child custody. The divorce proceeding and subsequent rulings on child custody may be delayed for up to 60 days after the military member returns from an on-duty post. This prevents the non-military spouse from seeking child custody while the military member is away. The military member is also able to designate another adult to exercise his or her time-sharing rights while he or she is away on an active duty assignment.
- Child relocation. If a child has been living with a military spouse, child relocation may be necessary to accommodate custody issues. This often involves making arrangements for child time-sharing between parents, which can be especially challenging if one parent or both parents are actively involved in the military.
These are only some of the unique considerations that may be involved in military divorce proceedings. It is important for servicemembers who are considering or involved in a divorce to be fully aware of the implications of both federal and state law regarding divorce.
Finding A Lawyer To Represent You
Whether you are a member of the military or have been married to serviceperson, the legal stakes in divorce proceeding are clearly very high. Adeptly handling divorce law issues that relate to military service is best done in consultation with an attorney.
A lawyer can provide insight on how to get a divorce and how long terminating a marriage takes. Your legal representative can also represent your interests in potentially contentious discussions over post-marriage issues.