If you are planning to seek a divorce from a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, then you have some special considerations to keep in mind. Military divorces have several key differences from civilian divorces, which has various advantages and disadvantages for the spouse of the service member. This article examines some of the key aspects of military divorces.
Spouses filing for divorce from Armed Forces personnel have several options concerning where to file. You may file in the state where you are currently domiciled. If your spouse is stationed on another state, the filing may also take place at that location. If a service member declares that his legal domicile is somewhere other than his current posting, you may file in that state also. It's a good idea to contact a family law attorney for advice on the best jurisdiction for filing.
Child custody in military divorce cases is based on state law, not federal law, just as it is in civilian divorce cases. You may have an extra responsibility to deal with, however, if you are involved in a military divorce. The Armed Forces strongly encourage divorcing spouses to develop a family care plan. This is a collection of documents that state who has custody of the children under certain circumstances, such as a service member's overseas deployment. In some cases, having a family care plan may be mandatory.
Child support also come under the jurisdiction of state law, but there are special considerations in this matter as well. For instance, state guidelines will use a service's member income to establish child support payments, just as they do with civilians. The true income of military personnel may be more difficult to determine, however, than that of a civilian. For example, you may run into problems trying to discover a service member's exact income from a tax return. Some of his income is tax-free and a return may not accurately reflect his ability to pay support.
You may be eligible to retain participation in the military's health care system, called TRICARE, after a divorce if you meet certain requirements. The marriage must have lasted at least 20 years and your spouse must have at least 20 years or service. The length of the marriage and the time of service must overlap as well.
The various aspects of divorcing a member of the Armed Forces are complex and should be handled by a legal professional. For further information, consult an experienced divorce lawyer in your area.