Similar yet different: key characteristics of military divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2021 | Military Divorce

Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard – active and retired servicemembers from all these military branches reside in substantial numbers across Maryland. The state has a long and proud tradition of state residents with service ties as current members or discharged/retired veterans.

Many of those individuals have families, of course. And those families are largely undifferentiated in most respects from their civilian counterparts. American families of every stripe share similar hopes and concerns when it comes to matters involving children, income and other important considerations.

Yet there are differences, notably in the family law sphere.

Especially concerning divorce. Those variances – both multiple and diverse – are prominently noted by one Maryland family law legal source addressing marital dissolution. It underscores the fundamental point that, “Military divorces have unique considerations.”

That assessment is echoed in an in-depth online overview of divorces among servicemembers and their spouses. It stresses that, “While military divorces are no more complicated than civilian divorces, there are special rules and requirements that apply.”

Key considerations: essential points to note re military divorce

A given military divorce can spur a number of distinct challenges that do not arise with civilian decouplings. Here are a few examples of subject matter that is often closely focused upon:

  • Application of relevant law (a military divorce can feature governing law at both the federal and state level)
  • Jurisdiction (What court in what state will oversee the divorce process?)
  • Residency issues/determinations
  • Determination of which state law will apply to matters ranging from asset distribution and child custody to spousal maintenance and more

Any of those above matters can loom large – and sometimes problematic – in a military divorce. The above-cited Maryland legal source notes for example that, “Custody matters can change dramatically depending on whether one parent is deployed or recently returned from deployment.”

Moreover, a remote deployment can understandably play a key role in outcomes relevant to court appearances and various orders. A unique application of federal law set forth under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act enables select servicemembers to seek a so-called “automatic stay” of any civil action while on active duty. That can feature heavily in wide-ranging divorce matters, including child custody and support concerns.

Other key  issues along varied fronts can also arise in a military divorce. Military pensions and the division of retirement assets provide just one example of additional subject matter that must be handled differently from a civilian decoupling.

Military divorce fundamentally involves a process and application of law that is quite distinct from what features in the civilian world. A divorcing servicemember or spouse might reasonably want to seek timely and on-point help from a seasoned military divorce attorney.