Extra Considerations to Watch For in Military Divorce

Military members and members of their families both serve the United States of America, either directly or indirectly. Both military members and their families make unique sacrifices to be part of the United States military. Because of this, when military members need to divorce, they need to work with a military divorce lawyer who understands the unique nature and consideration that military members receive.

Filing with Special Considerations

Some specific issues may arise when an active duty spouse seeks a divorce from their non-active duty spouse. These include child custody time arrangements with schooling and relocation permissions, backup child care for emergency on-base or emergency active duty situations, and more.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was put into place by Congress to reduce the number of stressors placed on active-duty deployed personnel. One of the things this act does is expressly prohibit a person from filing for divorce or modification of visitation orders towards their active duty spouse while they are deployed. The only exceptions are when a court order is presented that allows it.

Extra Documentation Needed

Depending on your precise scenario, you might need an affidavit showing that the spouse is on active duty or is not on active duty at the time of filing. Your divorce lawyer will know how to get this affidavit if your jurisdiction requires it. Additional forms are filled out that address relocation conditions, schooling issues, and backup, long-term child care in the event of an active-duty emergency. These forms will need to be filed along with the standard documents the court requires.

Always Best to be Flexible

While it’s not always possible, it’s best for military couples who divorce to be as flexible as possible with each other. Military members may see that because they have to follow governmental orders, they have little to no choice surrounding their proposed child custody visitation plan. In these cases, they may expect the civilian spouse to be even more accommodating moving forward. The civilian spouse may desire to see that their new wishes in their proposed visitation plans are honored more fully because they are separating from military life. 

Negotiating can be challenging. Be flexible by finding common ground you can both work with first. Unless ordered by the court, kids get to spend time with both parents. For long-distance arrangements, decide where the children will go to school and who will watch them during those months. The other parent can have them in the summers. Next, decide on things like holidays, school breaks, and more.

Backup Child Care During Emergencies

You should both actively come up with two or three adults you trust that will be near each of your locations who can watch the children during emergencies and long-term issues that may arise. These people could be friends on-base or friends and family off base. In advance, you must work with these other people to agree to be the backup child care, so there are no surprises. While only one person or family will take your children during these rare times, it’s essential to have two to three chosen as a backup to that backup.

Only attorneys and judges familiar with the special considerations that military divorce entails should be working your case. In the civilian world, attorneys and judges are not necessarily knowledgeable about the protections and requirements that go into a military divorce process and can inadvertently cause extreme stress and or financial loss for all involved.