If you are married to a member of the military and you’re seeking a divorce, you might be wondering how the military manages these cases. However, divorce does not fall under the jurisdiction of the military. Divorce follows the law of wherever the service member or their spouse properly files. However, there are some federal laws that change how divorce cases are handled when a member of the military is involved.
First, you must meet the residency requirements for a South Carolina divorce. This can be a challenge if you only moved to the state for your spouse’s military career and have not yet established residency. If you are a resident of South Carolina or your spouse is stationed there, you can in most cases file for divorce.
Note that if you plan to reside in the United States long-term, it is generally better to file in the United States, rather than allowing your spouse to file while overseas. An international divorce may not be honored by the U.S. legal system, which can make it difficult to enforce a custody agreement, child support order, or alimony order.
Review the USFSPA and SCRA
As you prepare to file, take some time to review these two laws. The USFSPA is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, which allows some divorced spouses to get treatment at military facilities, seek benefits if they are the victim of abuse, and enjoy other benefits.
The SCRA is the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act. This law offers some benefits to service members who cannot respond to divorce proceedings immediately. It allows deployed service members to have more time to respond to a divorce summons. This allows them to have the time they need to find legal counsel and figure out what their next steps are. It also prevents hearings from being able to be held while they’re deployed, unless they consent for them to (i.e. in the case of approving an uncontested divorce).
The USFSPA and SCRA may change the timeline of your divorce and affect how benefits are divided in your divorce. It’s crucial to speak to a divorce attorney familiar with military divorce to understand the likely outcomes of your divorce action.
Consider the Division of Assets and Debt
South Carolina divides marital assets fairly and equitably, not necessarily 50/50. This means that the court must consider a wide range of factors when determining what’s fair. In military divorces, there are special rules and regulations that govern how a military member’s retirement plan may be divided, if at all. When it is not divisible by the military, it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney familiar in military matters to know what other options are available to accomplish an equitable apportionment of marital assets and debts. There are also support and health insurance provisions that can be unique to military members, for example under what circumstances TriCare coverage can remain in place for a divorced spouse of a military member.
Turn to Nowell Law Firm for Help with Your Military Divorce
Divorcing an overseas or stateside military member does come with extra hurdles, but these types of divorces are fairly common in states like South Carolina where a lot of military spouses live. The process is much easier with the help of a dedicated divorce attorney who has experience with military member divorce. Learn more about your options now by calling Nowell Law Firm at 864-707-1785 or getting in touch online.