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6 Things You Should Know If You’re Involved in a Military Divorce

Military divorce brings with it a unique set of legal issues, from understanding the nuances of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act to deciphering the division of military pensions. This blog aims to shed light on these complexities, offering information to help you understand what to expect if you're facing a military divorce. Whether you are on active duty, a veteran, or a military spouse, this guide will arm you with the knowledge you need to navigate this challenging process.

1. A Spouse on Active Duty Has More Time to File a Response

Filing for divorce from an active-duty service member involves a different set of legal considerations, including an extension of typical response times. Due to the unique demands and potential deployments associated with military service, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides special protections.

Under the SCRA, an active-duty service member can request a "stay" of the divorce proceedings. This essentially pauses the legal process for a period of time, allowing them to focus on their military duties without the added burden of legal deadlines. The service member, or someone representing them, would need to demonstrate that their military service materially impacts their ability to respond to the divorce filing in a timely manner.

The SCRA is designed to ensure that service members aren't rushed into legal proceedings during a potentially stressful and unpredictable time of service. This extension ensures that those serving our country don't face a default judgment simply because deployments, training, or other duties made it impossible to comply with the standard 30-day response timeline.

2. You May Be Entitled to a Portion of Your Spouse’s Pension

If you're a military spouse going through a divorce, it's important to understand that you may be entitled to a portion of your spouse's military retirement pension. State courts are allowed to treat military pensions as property to be divided during a divorce proceeding. However, VA disability compensation is not included in the division.

3. Who Gets the House Isn’t a Question If You Live in Installation Housing

Many divorcing couples often wonder who will get the house in their divorce. However, in military divorces, this question is not always relevant. Specifically, which spouse gets the house is not relevant in cases where you live in installation housing.

For many military families, installation housing offers a convenient and affordable housing option located directly on the military base. These houses or apartments are owned and managed by either the Department of Defense or private companies under contract with the military. As the Department of Defense owns the house, a military spouse will be asked to vacate the property within 30 days of the divorce.

Thus, military spouses should include finding alternative housing in their divorce preparations. It is important to note that those who are living on overseas duty stations can seek help with moving expenses but will still need to sort out where they will move/live themselves.

4. Military Spouses May Be Able to Retain Health Insurance Access

If you have been married to your spouse for at least 20 years, and 15 of those years are creditable years of military service (for your spouse), you may be eligible to keep your medical insurance coverage. Even those who do not meet those requirements can seek to retain health insurance through the Continued Health Care Benefit Program.

The Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) is a temporary health insurance option designed to bridge the gap for military families undergoing significant life changes, such as divorce. CHCBP is a premium-based plan that offers health coverage similar to the comprehensive TRICARE plans familiar to military families.

To enroll in CHCBP, you need to apply within a certain timeframe after your TRICARE coverage ends. You'll then pay a premium to maintain the coverage for typically 18 to 36 months. This allows you time to secure your own health insurance plan without a lapse in coverage, which can be crucial for ongoing health needs.

5. Military Services Is Not a Negative When It Comes to Custody

Military service is a noble calling, but it can raise concerns for parents involved in child custody situations. The frequent deployments and relocations inherent to active duty might seem like factors that could negatively impact your case. However, the legal landscape actually offers significant protection for service members, ensuring that your dedication to your country doesn't disadvantage you in family court.

Just like in any custody case, the court's primary concern is the well-being of the child. Judges consider a multitude of factors, including each parent's ability to provide a stable and loving environment, foster strong emotional bonds, and support the child's physical and emotional needs. Your military service itself is not a deciding factor.

6. Our Firm Is Here to Make the Process Easier & Affordable

When it comes to military divorces, Cairns Law Offices acknowledges the unique challenges they present. If you or a loved one are considering divorce and either spouse is a servicemember, we can help you file an uncontested divorce.

Our commitment to affordable divorce services stems from our belief that everyone should have access to competent legal counsel, regardless of their financial situation. We've streamlined our processes to make them more efficient and cost-effective without compromising on the quality or thoroughness of our work.

Get started on your divorce case today using our Divorce Wizard. Call (888) 863-9115 if you have any more questions.

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