Soldiers and their spouses get divorced, too — and their status as members of the armed forces requires a special subset of legal knowledge. Though military divorces go through civilian courts, they have a different dynamic than their civilian counterparts. For one, almost every military divorce necessarily involves the discussion of benefits. Military service members and their families often sacrifice higher compensation and better working conditions in the civilian sector in exchange for benefits such as military retirement, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), base access/commissary, Tricare, survivor’s benefit (SBP), VA mortgage, VA educational benefits and extended leave time. These benefits are unique to a military divorce and often are the focus of the proceedings. The law on these issues is constantly changing. Timing of the divorce filing can be critical as can the actual wording of the decree. We review many divorce decrees every year that lack the precise wording necessary to preserve military benefits and retirement leaving the service member, spouse or children exposed to uncertainty or a loss of benefits. Often, there errors are not capable of correction.Military Divorce Is Not Like Civilian Divorce
In the civilian context a party to a divorce is unlikely to incur any adverse employment consequences for their conduct which may have lead to the divorce or their post filing conduct that made add to the dispute or appear to be in retaliation. Soldiers who are found to be engaged in a extramarital affair can face consequences including court martial. Soldiers who don't provide family support can face harsh penalties, including a court-martial. A soldier's pay, particularly that pay attributable to family status, housing allowances and the like, can be taken and paid directly to the service member's spouse.
In the case of a long-term marriage, military retirement or military pension benefits also come into play, as well as disability benefits that the serviceman or woman may have earned over a long career.Addressing Child Support, Child Custody, Visitation and Paternity Issues
Jurisdiction can be an issue. Meeting residency requirements is usually not a problem for civilians, but it's different for military personnel. To be a resident of the state your base is in, you usually have to have been stationed there for 6 months or more. Furthermore the designated home state set forth in your service jacket and on file with the military can provide potential grounds for jurisdiction, particularly if you pay taxes in that state and work, by absentee ballet or otherwise in that state.
Service-member families often look into uncontested divorce, often while the soldier is deployed outside the country. They have questions about venues and jurisdictions, and how child support is calculated when there are so many aspects — some taxable, some not — to military pay and benefits.Skillful Alabama Military Family Law Attorney
We are often asked questions about the military aspects of:
- Child custody and child support
- Child visitation, a huge issue when parents are halfway around the world
- Dividing retirement benefits, pension benefits, disability benefits and other military privileges
We are happy to answer all these questions. Our sympathies are 100 percent with men and women in uniform and their families. It is truly unfair that these individuals, most of them quite young and starting out, must pay such a price for serving their country.
If you are a service member or spouse contemplating divorce in Alabama, The Oncale Firm is the place to call. Contact military divorce lawyer Shane Oncale in Birmingham at (205) 458-9805 for a free consultation.