Most spouses will quickly agree that divorce is challenging, stressful, and “not fun.” For civilians, divorce is hard enough but for members of the Armed Services, it can be even more complicated, especially when one or both spouses is stationed abroad and the couple has children at home.
When it comes to the legalities of a military divorce, your first step should be to contact a military divorce lawyer at Claery & Hammond, LLP. In a free consultation, we can go over the specifics of your case and help you better understand your situation, what you’re up against, and what you can expect in the months ahead.
What if I’m Abroad When My Spouse Files?
You might have heard of a “default case,” which applies to civilian divorces. In these scenarios, if a spouse fails to respond to their spouse’s divorce petition, the case can be considered a default or uncontested case. In a default case, by their silence, a spouse gives up their right to have any say in their divorce, and there is a strong possibility that their spouse will get what they ask for.
Fortunately, service members are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which helps protect their legal rights while they’re on active duty. In a civilian case, when one spouse serves divorce papers, their husband or wife must respond within a certain time period, otherwise it becomes a default case, but under the Act:
- The civil court or administrative proceeding can be extended if the service member is unable to attend because he or she is on active duty.
- Service members can be protected from a default judgement or a failure to respond lawsuit because they are on active duty.
Dividing Military Pensions
Is a non-military spouse entitled to any portion of the military pension? Yes. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), state divorce laws apply to the division of military pensions. Since California is a community property state, the military pension would be treated the same as any other marital asset, such as a house or 401(k). Essentially, the couple can agree on how to divide the military pension, or if they can’t reach an agreement, a judge can decide for them.
We hope you found this information useful. To learn more about military divorce, contact our firm to meet with a skilled member of our legal team.