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Military divorces present some special issues

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2023 | Divorce

Many people who live in Gulfport and the surrounding coastal Mississippi communities either currently serve or at one time served in one of the branches of the armed forces.

When military servicemembers get divorced in the Mississippi courts, the process works like any other divorce in many ways.

Assuming the couple is eligible for a divorce, the judge will divide property, make custody and child support decisions and decide whether to award alimony and in what amount.

However, military divorces also present some unique issues.

For one, the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act may limit when an active servicemember can be served with a divorce case.

Federal law also grants eligible servicemembers the right to postpone divorce proceedings until they are able to attend hearings and participate.

The law also protects them from default judgments, that is, from a court’s making a decision in the servicemember’s absence.

Sorting out military benefits can be a complicated process

Federal laws also apply to certain military benefits and to military pay. Military benefits are an additional complication when one member of a married couple is a servicemember.

Unlike other types of pensions, a former spouse cannot make a claim on a servicemember’s military pension unless their marriage lasted at least 10 years. This is so even if the spouse and servicemember were married while the servicemember was active.

Laws also cap how much alimony and child support military members can pay out of their checks.

With respect to custody, a Mississippi court may struggle to balance a military parent’s right to see their children against the practical reality that military life is very demanding on a parent’s schedule. The job could even require a parent to deploy overseas.

The servicemember will need to advocate for their custody and parenting time rights.

Whether a person is a military member or the spouse of a military member, they should understand all of their legal options throughout the divorce process.