We are forever indebted to those servicemembers who fight to protect our liberties. While we hope only the best for these brave individuals, this is not always the case. Sometimes these individuals, for whatever reason, must go through the hardships of divorce just like any other person. However, unlike a divorce between average civilians, a service member’s divorce is subject to some unique sets of rules and procedures.
Various states have different approaches when it comes to determining divisions of a marital estate. However, unlike a civilian divorce, the various branches of the armed services may have different rules and regulations regarding other forms of “entitlements”. Therefore, if you have any questions, it may be worth referring to any governing materials, speaking with your commanding officer, or seeking the assistance of an attorney experienced in this area.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was passed in the 1940s to protect active duty military personnel from lawsuits while serving overseas. Because of SCRA, active duty military members may be exempt from participating in divorce proceedings. It’s interesting to note that this type of protection extended to American soldiers as far back as the Civil War.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a federal law that was created to ensure benefits and marital assets be provided to former spouses of service members. These benefits include free health care and access to commissaries. Most importantly though, this law guarantees spousal maintenance for nonmilitary personnel.
In order to be eligible for divorce under the USFSPA, the divorcing spouse must have been married to his or her partner for at least 10 years. It is worth noting here, the spouse seeking maintenance need not be a civilian to participate in a divorce with USFSPA benefits.
Just because you don’t qualify for the perks under the USFSPA doesn’t mean that you aren’t eligible for spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance can still be part of the divorce. The Department of Defense Finance and Accounting Services branch won’t be paying it, though. Likewise, you won’t receive other benefits like free military health care and access to commissary and exchanges.
Because military members move frequently, the place where they file for divorce might not be the place where they claim residency. You may file a Military divorce in several locations. Couples may choose to divorce in cities and states where they have previously resided, the place where they claim residency or the place where they are currently stationed.
States have strict residency requirements when it comes to a dissolution of marriage for civilians. To file in Colorado, you’ll need to determine if you meet our state’s jurisdictional requirements. Jurisdiction basically means that a state has the authority to hear a divorce case. Colorado requires that anyone filing for divorce must have lived here for at least 90 days.
Colorado is a no-fault divorce state. Your spouse’s marital transgressions won’t be relevant in your divorce. If you plan on filing in another state, you’ll need to determine if that state considers fault in the divorce.
Divorce from a servicemember adds a lot of other matters to your divorce. Because the rules involved can be fairly complex, it may be helpful to secure the help of an attorney. If you’re considering a divorce, if you have questions about the process, or if you need legal representation then please contact our office or fill in the contact form to the left of this post. We offer free consultations with our team of skilled attorneys, and there’s no obligation for you. Do yourself a favor today, and speak with one of our attorneys for a free consultation.
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