Proudly Serving Military Families
Many Americans are members of the United States Armed Forces—including the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. For many service members, their duties require them to travel throughout the country and overseas, with the understanding that they may be placed in harm’s way. This lifestyle can be challenging for military families. Furthermore, these issues can make the legal resolution of family law issues challenging for service members and their families. If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, or a family member of a service member, you should consult an experienced Orange County military divorce lawyer from Gill Law Group, PC for advice about your rights regarding a family law issue. Our legal team is proud to serve those who serve in the military, as well as their families. We are dedicated to helping families resolve issues, including:
- Interstate recognition and enforcement of orders
- Federal protections afforded to service members
- Deployments and temporary assignments
Legal Protections For Military Service Members
Given the transient nature of military life, the legal landscape for resolving military divorces can be remarkably complex. For civilians, matters of divorce are primarily governed by state family law rules. Such rules differ from state to state. For military families, what would otherwise be a state law issue can be complicated by the application of federal and interstate protections. For example, lawsuits involving military service members—including divorces—may be subject to the protections of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA provides military service members with legal protections for the following issues:
- Default judgments: If a party cannot appear in court to defend against the complaint of the plaintiff, a court may issue a default judgment against the defendant. However, the SCRA protects members of the military from default judgments in cases where they cannot appear in court due to their military duties.
- Non-judicial foreclosures: Legal proceedings regarding the collection of debts—including foreclosure cases—are similarly restricted for servicemembers who are preoccupied with their military orders and responsibilities.
- Repossessions: Military service members enjoy protections against lawsuits concerning the repossession of a person’s property in satisfaction of outstanding debts. This may affect divorces involving important issues of property division and family support.
Child Custody Issues For Military Divorce Cases
In military divorces, another sophisticated legal issue involves the resolution of child custody cases. If a parent of a minor child is an active-duty service member, temporary assignments and employments which place that person overseas can make coordinating for custody exchanges and visitation schedules a logistical challenge in a military divorce case. In many cases, a service member may find themselves frequently traveling between different states and countries. As a result, jurisdictional concerns for child custody matters may be particularly challenging for military families—such as issues regarding the enforcement or modification of a custody order. This may require the application of the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), a uniform law that almost all 50 states have ratified. The UCCJEA helps to resolve competing jurisdictional claims between courts of different states when it comes to determining child custody matters in cases where parents reside in different states.
Support & Property Division
As mentioned above, state law generally covers divorces and other family law matters. This includes proceedings regarding family support and the division of property upon divorce. For example, California is among a handful of states that adheres to the community property system of asset division in divorce cases. Federal law provides certain protections for service members regarding the following:
- Medical benefits: Members of the armed forces and their families are usually entitled to important medical benefits. The continued availability of such benefits for families going through a divorce can be a challenging legal issue to resolve in military divorces.
- Military retirement: Federal law protects the retirement benefits of military members and veterans. Such laws may raise complicated issues of property division and spousal support.
- Disability benefits: Military members who suffer from a disability are entitled to certain benefits, not unlike how employees are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.
- Veterans benefits: Additionally, veterans who suffer from a disability connected to military service are entitled to certain benefits. Family law rules involving community property and alimony can be difficult to navigate in military divorces for this reason.
Military Divorce FAQs:
Does the military pay for divorce?
No, the military does not fund service member’s divorces. However, they do provide legal guidance through their military legal assistance offices.
Does my ex-wife get half of my military retirement?
In some cases military ex-spouses can receive up to 50% of your military retirement pension. However, there are certain criteria that must be met in order for them to receive a direct payment out of your pension:
- Married for 10 years, overlapping with 10 years of military service
However, this does not mean that a percentage of your pension cannot be allocated to your ex-spouse during divorce proceedings. To learn more about your rights and how your pension may be divided, it’s important that you speak to one of our military divorce attorneys.
How much alimony does a military wife get?
The military does not have any set guidelines regarding how alimony is awarded during a divorce. However, they do prohibit ex-spouses from receiving more than 50% of your income in support payments. In some cases a spouse may be allowed to keep their medical benefits as well, depending on how long the couple were married and how long the service-member was in the military at the time of the marriage.
Consult Gill Law Group, PC for Legal Advice
Military families are expected to endure unique challenges that most Americans living at home may not ever experience. Sometimes these challenges can be a tremendous hardship on service members, their spouses, as well as their children. Given the sacrifices service members routinely make in service of their country, the hardships of going through a divorce should not be one of them. That is why our team at Gill Law Group, PC is dedicated to helping service members and their families in military divorce cases, so they have one less thing to stress about.