It’s no big deal for many individuals to timely show up in court to formally respond to a judicial order linked with a divorce proceeding.
It is, though, if you happen to be a military member stationed in a place like Thule Air Base in Greenland or in the Azores islands west of Portugal or in Japan or in the hinterlands of Afghanistan or ….
We know that readers get the point. Some commutes are breezy and casual affairs, while others are a bit more challenging.
Actually, “challenging” is an apt descriptor for much that is relevant to military divorce for American servicemembers and their spouses. An in-depth online overview of military divorce duly notes the “special rules and requirements” attached to marital dissolution in the Armed Forces, underscoring both their multiple nature and complexity.
What laws govern divorce for U.S. servicemembers?
Servicemembers and their spouses in Illinois and elsewhere might reasonably want to prepare for some head scratching when it comes to garnering insight on the laws that govern military divorce.
There is no quick and easy answer. In the most general sense, both federal and state mandates will apply.
Federal dictates necessarily play a key role, given that the audience they relate to is interspersed across the world like no other American demographic. A federal law like the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides for predictability and consistency (and fairness) concerning servicemembers’ responses to court orders.
On the other hand, states command broad latitude in making ultimate decisions regarding many aspects of military divorce. State law is centrally relevant regarding a host of matters, as underscored below.
Some key issues relevant to military divorce
An obviously threshold question in any military divorce relates to residency and filing requirements. A “where to file” determination can be critically important. The above-cited overview stresses that the state filed in “will determine what grounds are required for divorce, property distribution, child custody and child support.”
Matters tied to a servicemember’s required showing in court are also (as alluded to above) top-tier concerns. The SCRA enables respondents in select instances to secure “stays” that allow for a temporary halt in civil action timetables.
Pension and benefit entitlements for military spouses are also issues of obvious importance in many decouplings. This area can be distinctly complex, involving rules concerning marriage length and additional factors.
The bottom line with military divorce, unsurprisingly, is that its commonality to civilian divorce is coupled with fundamental differences that also feature concerning many material points.
That reality leads to the above article’s recommendation for any divorcing servicemember or spouse to timely “speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who handles such cases.