Serving California's Military
Helping Military Members with their Divorce
Being in the military can complicate any divorce. We have the experience to help.
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How Military Divorces Are Different
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Military vs. Civilian Divorces

If you are serving or have served in our Armed Forces, or are married to a serviceman, you know that military life is different from civilian life. This is no different than when it comes to divorces & family law. While military divorces will deal with the same topics as a civilian divorce-topics such as custody, child support and alimony-there will be unique details that will make it an entirely different beast. It is therefore imperative that you work with an attorney who not only knows family law, but also knows military law - someone who can help explain the differences that you are going to be facing and be able to guide you through them.

How are military divorces different?

There are many different areas where a divorce in a military family will differ from one in a civilian family. At Cutter & Lax, one of our founding attorneys, Nelson Cutter, is a retired JAG officer who knows military law intimately. If you have questions about your unique situation or if you would like to discuss them in detail, it is encouraged that you contact our military family law firm as soon as possible.

Below we explain two of the ways military divorces are different:

  • Jurisdiction - Where do I file?

For civilian families, this is generally a simple answer - you file where you live. For military families, however, this can be much more complex. In most cases, the divorce may be filed in the state where the military member is stationed, even if they are not a legal resident. This, however, is not the only option. They may also file where the military member holds legal residency or where the spouse resides. All are viable options. It, however, is extremely important to realize that where you will file how your military pension is handled. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) states that the military member's state of residence is always permitted to divide the pension. Therefore, if you file in another state, they may not have the authority to do so - although the military member may consent to the court doing so if they choose.

  • Time - Can military divorce be slowed down?

If a military member is serving overseas, he or she may be served the divorce papers by military authorities. If this is refused, the court may serve them - however, since few courts are willing to send someone overseas to accomplish this, it may cause significant delay in the divorce process. It is also important to note that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) gives an extension to deadlines for military members who are on active duty. These military members may request a stay which would last for 90 days, and then may be extended in 30 day intervals as granted by the court.

As you can see, military families have to deal with exceptionally unique circumstances. It is therefore absolutely crucial that no time is wasted in getting the involvement of a knowledgeable military divorce lawyer that you can trust to represent your best interests. Call us today to learn more.

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