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Military Divorce

Military Divorces

When one or both parties are in the military, divorce is governed by a combination of state and federal laws. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, military personnel are generally immune from civil actions (including actions for divorce) while on active duty. At the discretion of the court, they may also be immune for up to 60 days after their active duty service ends.

Almost all matters of family law are governed by the states, however. Divorce is no exception, and that includes divorce that involves military personnel. Federal law does cover emergency child support and military pensions, which can come up in military divorces. Other than that, though, individual states have almost exclusive authority.

In order for a state to hear any civil action (including divorce), it has to have authority to do so. This authority is known as “jurisdiction,” and is usually determined by the state in which one or both parties reside. For a person in the military, determining their state of residence is sometimes difficult. There are a few ways to decide the state in which a divorce action should be filed:

  • The state in which the filing spouse resides
  • The state in which the military member is stationed (if stationed in the United States)
  • The state in which the military service member claims legal residence (His or her state of residence at the time of enlistment, or the state to which he or she plans to return after his or her military service ends)

The spouse in the military will have to be served with divorce papers before the action can go forward. If the spouse is stationed overseas, the other spouse can request the military to serve him or her. However, the spouse must consent to service. If they do not consent, the court will appoint a third party to attempt service, unless they are serving on a ship. 

Also, there have been many cases involving “military romance scams”. These are scams where a person, usually overseas, poses as a military person and gets romantically involved with a U.S. citizen. In such cases, the victim may be sending money or resources because they believe the person is a serviceperson, when in fact they may not be in the military at all. In such cases, a military lawyer can help assist with the romance fraud and can help recover losses and uncover further scam attempts.

Military Romance Scams

Many military divorce cases have actually been what is called military romance scams. These are scams in which a person, generally overseas, poses as U.S. military personnel and becomes involved in a romantic relationship with a U.S. citizen. The citizen may be sending money or resources to the person they believe is a serviceperson. They may do this at the request of the scammer for “service related fees,” such as transportation, communication, medical fees, and marriage expenses. Most of these fees are invariably false.

Military romance scams are treated as any instance of fraud and may result in criminal fraud consequences. Some examples of criminal fraud consequences include possible jail time, as well as criminal retribution like paying back expenses to the victim. The issue with military romance scams is that they can be difficult to trace, as the scammers are often located overseas. They may also utilize untraceable emails and financial accounts.

Military Lawyers

Military lawyers are lawyers who have specialized knowledge in military laws and legal issues affecting members of the military. The military is regulated by its own set of rules and regulations, which can sometimes be different from those governing civilians. These must be factored in for a divorce claim, as they can affect the outcome of the proceedings greatly.

So military lawyers may be consulted for situations where legal proceedings are being sought that involve complex legal and military issues.

Can a Military Lawyer Help my Claim?

Military lawyers will have specialized knowledge of the various family law issues and hurdles that couples face in such situations. While they may not always be military personnel themselves, they will have experience in dealing with the types of matters that are common in a military divorce situation.

It is especially important to address all military-related concerns in a divorce proceeding, as these can have effects in the long run (especially when it comes to issues like property division or distribution of retirement benefits). Military laws and regulations can be subject to change, but a military lawyer can help keep a person informed of any relevant changes that might apply to their situation.

Military divorces can be quite complex and may require the assistance of a professional. You may wish to hire a divorce lawyer in your area if you need guidance or representation for your claim. A lawyer can provide you with advice and research during the entire legal process.

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