Dissolving a marriage can be a complicated legal process, and when one of the spouses is on active military duty, it adds another layer of complexity. Military divorces require compliance with local laws, federal laws, and regulations pertaining to active service members.
When you are considering divorce while serving in the military or your spouse is on active duty, seek counsel from a divorce attorney with relevant experience. A Hartford military divorce lawyer is familiar with the unique issues that arise when people serving dissolve their marriages, and can provide strong guidance and wise counsel throughout the process.
Service members and their spouses have more flexibility than others when deciding where to file for divorce. When a member of the military is stationed in Connecticut, they or their civilian spouse may file for divorce here, even when their legal residence is somewhere else. When a spouse files for divorce here, Connecticut law applies, so a spouse should discuss whether the laws in the state favor the goals of the divorce.
The spouse seeking a divorce must serve the other spouse with divorce papers. When the other spouse is on active duty, a process server might have trouble getting entry to a local base and cannot serve papers overseas. A Hartford divorce attorney could negotiate with the service member and their lawyer to accept the process, which may include a signed waiver of personal service.
In most divorces, the other spouse must serve an answer to a petition for divorce. If they fail to answer within the given time, the court could enter a default judgment in favor of the petitioning spouse. A federal law called the Service Members Civil Protection Act protects an active-duty service member from default judgments and allows a court to delay civil proceedings for up to 60 days following a service member’s active duty.
Connecticut law presumes it is in a child’s best interests to have significant time with each of their parents. However, when one parent is subject to sudden mobilization or deployment, the court may factor that circumstance into their decision-making. However, Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-56e protects a military parent from changes to the parenting plan while they are deployed.
Courts favor placing children in situations that provide structure, predictability, and routine, but they cannot discriminate against members of the military. Families benefit when parents work together to create a parenting plan that allows each of them to play a substantial and meaningful role in their children’s lives and anticipates how to handle a parent’s deployment. A divorce lawyer in Hartford can help a member of the military or their spouse make a convincing case that their parenting plan serves the children’s best interests.
Child support and spousal support combined must not total more than 60 percent of a service member’s salary, and child support takes priority over spousal support. A spouse seeking ongoing support from a service member should be aware of this limitation.
Connecticut law applies when a service member or their spouse files for divorce here, which means they must divide marital property equitably. A service member’s pension benefits are marital property subject to division.
A member of the military and their spouse can negotiate how much of the pension the spouse should receive, including arrangements where the non-military spouse waives pension rights in return for other property. The court generally honors property division agreements unless they are clearly unfair.
When a marriage has endured for at least 20 years, the military spouse has served for at least 20 years, and there is at least 20 years of overlap between the marriage and military service, the non-military spouse can continue to receive full military benefits after a divorce. These benefits include healthcare, commissary privileges, and a portion of the service member’s retirement pay. The government pays the portion of the service member’s pension directly to the former spouse.
When a couple was married for at least ten years, one spouse served at least ten years in the military, and was married to the spouse for at least ten years while serving, the civilian former spouse is entitled to receive direct payment of a portion of the military spouse’s pension benefits. Direct payment is a significant benefit, as the civilian does not need to rely on their former spouse to make the payments.
A lawyer in Harford can determine which special circumstances apply to a certain military divorce.
Military divorces raise some issues that do not arise in other contexts. Working with an attorney familiar with these unique aspects is critical. A Hartford military divorce lawyer can provide competent and assertive representation. Schedule a consultation today.