Going through a divorce can get stressful and complicated when divvying up assets and deciding custody of the children. Add to that the extra layers of red tape and legal jurisdiction of being a member of the military and it can be a downright headache.
If you or your spouse is a service member looking to divorce, you might want the help of an Athens military divorce lawyer. A divorce attorney at Charlotte Christian Law can guide you through the difficult, complex, and overwhelming military divorce process.
Our Firm Provides a Compassionate Approach to Divorce Law
Our legal team has helped countless clients in divorce cases, saving them many dollars in alimony. We have gained custody for fathers and litigated divorce cases that awarded our clients more than 50% in assets.
We understand how difficult this time can be, particularly for military families splitting up the family. Our award-winning law firm is committed to providing compassion and kindness at every step of the legal process.
Experience has taught us that every relationship and divorce is different. That’s why our Athens divorce attorneys take an individualized approach to your case, paying attention to your specific needs.
Military Divorce Cases Are Complex
A military divorce is different from a civilian divorce because both Alabama (or your respective state) and Federal law (via the military) have authority over certain aspects of the divorce process. Only state civil courts can grant a divorce, as in civilian divorce cases.
However, there are special rules and requirements for military service members and their spouses that pertain to:
- Divorce filing procedures
- Disbursement of benefits
- Spousal and child support
Legal representation from the best Athens, AL divorce attorneys who are well-acquainted with the facets of military divorces and the intricacies of the laws that affect them can benefit your case.
Where Should You File for Divorce?
The state with jurisdiction over your divorce will vary depending on yours and your spouse’s unique circumstances. Typically, states require you to be a resident before you can file for divorce there. The time required to become a resident varies by state.
Members of the Athens community need to meet a 6-month residency requirement imposed by O.C.G.A. § 30-2-5 to file for divorce in Alabama. However, you are not required to file for divorce in Alabama if you are a resident. You could have three options:
- Filing where the non-military spouse resides
- Filing where the military spouse legally resides
- Filing in the state where the servicemember spouse is stationed
Things to Consider When Choosing a Filing State
Which state you choose to file in will be up to you, but think about which state is the most convenient and beneficial. You need to consider things like:
- Where your support network is
- Whether filing in one state might be cheaper than another
- How state laws affect the time frame of the divorce or disbursement of assets
For example, some states require you to be married to your military spouse for a certain period for military retirement benefits to be apportioned to the non-military spouse. If you’re a service member married for just less than one state’s requirement, you’d want to get divorced in an applicable state with a shorter requirement. This would mean your retirement benefits would remain solely yours.
A non-service member spouse would probably desire this option as well. This is because they could receive benefits from the military spouse’s pension. This is assuming, of course, that the state where you’re filing for divorce has such a law. Likewise, some states mandate a period of legal separation before a divorce can be granted and finalized. Others do not.
A Military Divorce Attorney Can Help You File in the Appropriate State
In general, these are the types of details that make jurisdiction so important to a military divorce case. They are the things that a military divorce lawyer serving Athens, Alabamba will pay attention to and advise you on.
Our legal team will carefully consider what’s most important to you. We aim to empathetically guide you through the applicable state laws that could influence the outcome of your divorce.
Legal Protections for Servicemembers Is Also Available
Military men and women have certain protections from legal proceedings. If they are on active duty, they have a right under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to request a stay on the divorce or other civil proceedings. The Act allows these civil cases to be halted temporarily while the servicemember is on duty or for 90 days after they return from active duty.
The purpose of the Act is to:
- Prevent service members from being distracted (or otherwise negatively impacted) by things that could affect their mission to defend the country
- Encroach on the servicemember’s civil rights while they are unable to do anything about it
Your military divorce lawyer will ensure your rights as a service member are protected while you protect the rights of so many others as you fight for our country.
Non-Military Spouses Have Protections Too
There are certain federal protections in place for the non-military spouses of service members. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) allows the state to treat military retirement pensions as other marital property and divide it up upon divorce.
The amount given to a former spouse is determined by the court, but it cannot exceed 50% of the soldier’s disposable retired pay. If child support garnishment is enforced as well, the payment to the former spouse cannot exceed 65% of disposable pay.
Failure to Pay Child Support and Alimony
Child support and alimony are not affected by the 10/10 rule. Further, should a court order be made, the military can enforce these payments. The military will take action against the non-military spouse by garnishing their basic and special pay wages.
Further, their commanding officer has the authority to punish a service member through:
- Administrative separation from service
- Non-judicial punishment such as a reduction in rank, extra duties, or a fine of two-thirds their pay
Additional Benefits for Military Spouses
Military retirement benefits end when a service member passes away. For this reason, the Department of Defense has established the Survivor’s Benefits Plan. It pays up to 55% of a service member’s retirement pay to their elected beneficiaries if they die. It is automatically given to active duty members who died serving the country and can be purchased by service members at retirement.
You can also receive additional benefits if you were married to a military spouse for 20 years. These include:
- Full medical coverage
- Access to the commissary (on-base grocery store)
- Access to the exchange (i.e., military department store or the like)
Reclaim Your Life With the Help of Charlotte Christian Law
A divorce can be challenging alone. Let a military divorce lawyer at Charlotte Christian Law help you put the pieces of life in Athens back together. We can protect you from an unfair divorce. Give us a call at (256) 859-7277.