Even though a military divorce isn’t always more complicated than traditional divorces, it is essential to understand that there are several different federal and state laws that may apply to the situation. For example, the protections offered by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, or SSCRA, have been expanded and reaffirmed in the SCRA – Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This law states that any active service member is given the time they need to handle all obligations they have to the military.
What this means is that there are certain civil obligations that may be postponed by the court for a period of up to 60 days after active duty. This can include taxes, outstanding debt and even pending divorce proceedings. Additionally, service members have to be served personally with any summons order to help and protect them from the default judgment. This is because it is not uncommon for those in the military to be involved in divorce proceedings and never realize it.
When Do Special Military Divorce Laws Come Into Play?
If someone in the military is stationed in the U.S., the situation described above is usually not an issue. However, if they are stationed overseas or if they are deployed during war time, then the process may be complicated significantly. While the spouse that is not in the military can request that the active member be served with the petition for divorce, they also have the right to refuse it. Since it is not likely that someone overseas will be easily found by the court, the spouse may have to wait until the other person returns to initiate the divorce proceedings legally.
Once both of the spouses involved in the divorce are present and able to participate, they will have to determine if they are eligible to file for a divorce in the state. For example, in Florida, residency requirements mandate that the non-military spouse reside in the state where the active military spouse is stationed, but this doesn’t always mean they have to be a legal resident.
Determining Benefits in a Military Divorce
The next step in a military divorce is for the couple to figure out if the non-military spouse is entitled to receive military benefits. To do this, they have to understand the 20/20/20 Rule in Florida, as well as the Ten-Year Rule. In many cases, hiring a divorce attorney can be beneficial to fully understand the situation.
The 20/20/20 Rule applies to couples where one is a retired veteran and the other individual is their dependent spouse. It states that the couple needs to have been married for a minimum of 25 years and that the retired individual served in the military for a period of 20 years and that the marriage overlapped with the active time in service for a period of 20 years. If this is the case, then the dependent spouse is entitled to military benefits.
The Ten-Year Rule requires that the couple has been married for a period of 10 years, and during that time the service member was consistently on duty. In this case, the dependent spouse will be able to recover a portion of the military pension.
As you can see, the conditions of a military divorce in the state of Florida are often complex. Hiring a divorce attorney for help is the best course of action. To learn more, contact a divorce attorney at the Law Office of Jeffrey Thompson by calling 321-253-3771.