It is an all-too-common experience for our servicemen and women to receive divorce papers while deployed. The distance and stressors of deployment can make a bad situation worse and bring marriages to their breaking point.
Men and women in uniform are much more likely to experience divorce and marital disputes. For those in combat, the stressors are even greater. A family law dispute can seem inevitable, but that does not necessarily mean that you are more prepared for it. Fortunately, there are protections in place for our military when this happens.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
Currently, the federal government has a variety of protections for servicemembers, especially for those on deployment, established through The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This act has roots as far back as the first World War. It places strict limitations on what is expected of a military member who is serving abroad, offers remedies for certain family law issues, and makes clear that many of people’s worst fears in family law will not come to pass.
Family law is a state-level issue, meaning that how your state decides on issues like child support or property division will depend on the state’s specific laws. But this often leads to serious gaps whenever it concerns military personnel. State laws often require party members to be present in court or to file by certain deadlines, none of which is reasonable for a deployed person. However, the federal government protections supersede these policies and offer you a chance to litigate or mediate on more even footing. Such protections include providing military members electronic hearings, making some rulings only temporary and offering greater access to the appeals process.
But Family Law Matters Are Complex
Even with the SCRA, you should be careful to protect yourself, your children and your financial health throughout a divorce. Military families tend towards more complex custody situations and have additional complications regarding military benefits. Working with a qualified and experienced attorney who understands the burdens military families face is among the best ways to help expedite your legal issues while still caring for yourself.