In many ways, a military divorce shares many similarities with a civilian divorce and, depending on the circumstances, might not be that much more complicated to navigate with legal help. That said, they do share some differences, including the service of process, residency and filing requirements, and specific rules regarding the division of military pensions.
To help shed some clarity on the basics of a military divorce, we have compiled a list of military laws and rules you should familiarize yourself with as you begin this process:
- Military divorce laws: Military divorces are governed by state and federal laws. When dividing assets like military pensions, federal laws will come into play, whereas state laws will dictate how alimony is issued. If a military spouse is on active duty, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) prevents divorce proceedings from continuing for 60 days or more, if allowed by the court. This protection allows military spouses to devote their time and attention to their duties rather than worry about missing important court dates.
- Jurisdiction: In order to grant a divorce to military members or spouses, a court must first have jurisdiction to hear the case. This is generally straightforward for civilians since jurisdiction is typically the place where one or both spouses live. For members of the military, jurisdiction might be the place where he or she has legal residence, despite being stationed elsewhere.
- Service of process: Military members and their spouses typically have three options when it comes to choosing a state to file for divorce in. The filing spouse can choose to do so in the state where he or she resides, where the military spouse is stationed, or where the military spouse has legal residency. The divorce laws of the chosen state will govern how property distribution, child custody, alimony, and other key issues are determined.
- Residency filing requirements: In many cases, states reduce or eliminate residency requirements for military divorces, allowing members of the military or their spouses to file wherever the member is stationed. This is not always the case, however, so ask your divorce attorney or advice on your own specific situation.
- Military pensions and other benefits: Military pensions are subject to division during a divorce. The payment of a military spouse’s retirement is done so directly through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) as long as there were at least 10 years of marriage, which overlapped with 10 years of military service. Additionally, a former spouse of military personnel is eligible for full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges if they were married for 20 years or more, if the service member served at least 20 years of creditable service toward retirement pay, and if there was at least a 20 year overlap of marriage and military service.
- Spousal and child support: The court can enforce child support obligations in various ways, such as a court order, wage garnishment, and voluntary or involuntary allotment.
Divorce Attorneys in Illinois
If you believe your marriage is headed for a divorce, you need to take the right steps to understand your options and how to best protect your interests. At Wakenight & Associates, P.C., our Illinois divorce attorneys can navigate you through your divorce, even if you or your spouse is a member of the military. We will use our experience and knowledge to your advantage.
Get started on your case today and contact us at any of our convenient locations to schedule your free initial case evaluation with one of our skilled divorce attorneys.