Spouses of service members enjoy various military benefits, but these marriages often also come with their own challenges. You move from place to place, and the military member may go on deployments for months at a time. Getting a divorce can be a scary and emotional process for anyone. However, for military spouses, it may be a little more difficult. If you’re planning to get a military divorce, you need help from a Santa Rosa military divorce lawyer.
Some of the laws and rules for getting a military divorce can be fairly different from that of a civilian divorce. Having a lawyer who understands both the state laws and the federal laws that apply to your divorce can ensure a smoother divorce process.
The rules for a military divorce in California are the same as a nonmilitary divorce, with a few exceptions. The most important thing to be sure of before moving forward with your divorce in Santa Rosa, California is that you meet the residency requirements. You or your spouse must have been a resident of California for at least the last six months and lived for at least the last three months in the county where you are filing for your divorce.
Your military divorce will be regulated by both California law and federal law. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) both play large roles in divorce proceedings, no matter what state you reside in. Federal laws will take precedence over California laws.
If your spouse is deployed on active duty when you file for divorce, a default does not apply as it does with nonmilitary divorces. This means that if, while on deployment, your spouse is unable to file a response in 30 days, which is a requirement in California, the court cannot move forward with any decisions or orders regarding the divorce. This is a law under the SCRA.
Of course, this could make the divorce process harder and last longer, especially if you are unable to speak with your spouse about an agreement. The purpose is to allow military members to fully focus on their mission so they can request to have the case paused for at least 90 days. This pause can also be extended if needed.
As with any divorce, child custody and support are major concerns between spouses. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on who the child will live with and who will provide the means of support, the court will decide on your behalf.
In California, there is no discrimination against a parent who is on active military duty when it comes to a child’s living arrangements. While it may be challenging for a military parent to get physical custody, it is not impossible. What benefits the child most will take priority.
Child support is determined by the court as well. The income of both spouses is taken into account, along with the number of children. For military members, total child support payments cannot be more than 50% to 65% of their disposable income.
Like child support, the amount of spousal support a military member provides is calculated by the court and is not to exceed 50% to 65% of their income. This amount is in combination with child support if you and your spouse have children together. The child support will typically be calculated before alimony. The USFSPA enforces all payments of alimony and child support that are ordered by the court.
In terms of receiving a military member’s retired pay after divorce, the court can order for retired pay to be divided, but the USFSPA does not have to enforce it if your marriage does not meet the ten years of marriage and simultaneous active duty requirement.
The military may not help you get a divorce in terms of giving a divorce decree, as it is a family law matter that is taken care of through the court. The military can, however, offer legal assistance to support and guide its members and their spouses through the process. This includes assistance with mediation, legal procedures, and advice regarding your divorce.
As a former military spouse, you may be entitled to many benefits if you meet specific requirements to qualify. Those benefits include a continued medical coverage program, cheaper medical coverage, up to 50% of retired pay, and spousal support. It is important to note that many of these benefits depend on how long the marriage lasted and how many years of active duty the military member served. Speak with a lawyer to figure out what you may be entitled to.
After a military divorce, the former spouse of the military member may be entitled to a portion of the service member’s retirement if they were married for at least ten years and the member did at least ten years of service during the marriage. This is the 10/10 rule. The division of retirement pay can be enforced under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act.
A military divorce in California follows the same process as a civilian divorce. To begin, you must file divorce forms with the California courts and have a copy delivered to your spouse. Then, you must fill out paperwork detailing your financial information, including assets, property, and debts.
The next important thing to do is write up an agreement for dividing assets, care for children, and anything else you feel is necessary. Once all of this is done, you can submit your paperwork to the court to finalize the divorce.
If you are getting a military divorce in Santa Rosa, you do not only have to take into consideration California laws, you have to consider the federal laws, as well as their implications for you and your family. Reach out to the Carroll Law Office to consult with one of our skilled military divorce attorneys.
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