Divorce is always difficult but can be made even more complicated when one or both spouses are in the military. It is important to be aware of some of the unique challenges that may arise as you proceed through the military divorce process.
In many states, when a spouse serves the other spouse with civilian divorce papers, the other spouse is typically required to respond within the 30 days of service. Failure to respond can result in a default judgment, meaning that the divorce will be made final without input from the non-responsive spouse. However, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act has been implemented to protect the rights of service members on active duty. Under the SCRA, a military spouse may get a delay to appear in court if they are on a mission.
In a civilian divorce, the divorce will generally be filed where the filing party lives. However, in a military divorce, both spouses must agree to the state where the divorce is filed or the divorce must be filed where the military spouse lives or is a resident.
Another difference is that in a military divorce, former spouses of military members are protected under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. Under this act, an unmarried former spouse can receive benefits, including medical coverage under TRICARE, if certain criteria are met.
Military divorce can be very different from civilian divorce in many ways. Military lawyers on base cannot represent you in your divorce, but a civilian attorney specializing in military divorce can help you with every step of the divorce process.