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Understanding the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

For military personnel, navigating a divorce can be complicated by deployments and the unique protections afforded by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA is a federal law that provides various safeguards for servicemembers on active duty, particularly concerning legal proceedings.

When it comes to divorce, the SCRA can offer a postponement of court proceedings, ensuring that military duties do not unfairly prejudice the servicemember's legal interests. This means that if a servicemember is unable to attend court due to their service obligations, they can request a stay of proceedings, which can delay divorce actions and protect against default judgments that might otherwise be entered in their absence.

Delayed Proceedings & Timeframe Extensions

In addition to having the protections of SCRA that allow postponement, the reality of deployment often means that divorce proceedings may be subject to delays and extended timeframes (even if the deployed party wishes to move the proceedings forward), and finalizing the divorce can take significantly longer than usual. These delays can be stressful for all parties involved, as they may be eager to move forward with their lives but are held in a state of legal limbo.

More on the Impact of Deployment on Divorce Proceedings

While you can delay your divorce while deployed, some people wish to still proceed with the dissolution of their marriage. However, deployment does not only lengthen the divorce timeline but can have an effect on other aspects of the process. Below, we discuss some of the other ways deployment can affect your divorce:

Communication & Negotiation Difficulties

Deployment can significantly strain the communication channels between spouses, which is particularly problematic during divorce negotiations. The physical distance and limited contact opportunities can hinder the exchange of information and the ability to reach mutual agreements on critical issues like property division, spousal support, and child custody.

Additionally, time zone differences and the demanding nature of military duties can further complicate timely discussions. For the spouse at home, this can feel isolating and frustrating, while the deployed servicemember may feel overwhelmed by the need to address legal matters while fulfilling their service commitments.

Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful divorce negotiations, and when deployment is a factor, it may require additional legal support and creative solutions to bridge the gaps.

Understanding Filing Jurisdiction

Jurisdictional issues can add another layer of complexity to divorces involving deployed servicemembers. Typically, a divorce is filed in the state where one or both parties reside. However, for military service members, you are legally allowed to file in either the state where they or their nonmilitary spouse live or in the state where they are stationed.

Managing Joint Assets & Debts

The management of joint assets and debts is another critical aspect of divorce that can be complicated by deployment. Deployed servicemembers may face difficulties in accessing financial accounts, communicating with creditors, or managing property from afar. It's essential for both parties to have a clear understanding of their financial situation and to make informed decisions about the division of assets and liabilities.

This may involve creating powers of attorney, setting up separate accounts, or negotiating debt repayment plans. The goal is to reach a fair and equitable settlement that takes into account the unique circumstances of deployment while protecting the financial interests of both spouses.

Learn more about navigating military divorces by reading our blog, “What You Should Know About Military Divorce.”

Call (888) 863-9115 to Get Started on Your Case Today

If you are a service member or spouse facing the prospect of divorce during deployment, Cairns Law Offices is here to support you. Our firm understands the complexities of military divorce and is committed to protecting your rights and interests. We can help you navigate the legal process, manage the challenges of deployment, and smoothly navigate filing an uncontested divorce using our online services.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your uncontested military divorce.

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