Understanding the Military Divorce Process

Military divorces are often more complex than civilian divorces, as servicemembers will need to consider the impact of different states’ laws on their rights and obligations. In addition, many rules apply specifically to military members or those in a relationship with an armed forces member. These rules require a level of understanding that is higher than simple knowledge of state divorce law. Having this information can make it easier for both spouses to understand what is going on during the divorce process and how it may affect them personally.

Reasons for Divorce

The main reason for divorce is adultery/adulterous relations between the spouse of a service member, which means that one is looking outside their marriage to find sexual satisfaction with another person or persons while still legally joined together. In particular, it is difficult for a service member to perform his duties while worrying about problems at home between them and their spouses. That is because they can never know if they have been faithful to him or not, even when an unforgivable offense has been committed. To protect themselves from such distress and pain that may be caused by adultery, service members who cannot repair their marriage may ask for a divorce with the help of a professional military divorce lawyer.

Acquisition of marital property

Marital property is only acquired after the military member has entered into the state of martial law (when they are married). According to the common laws of most countries, all other property before that moment should be viewed as separate property and not marital. This rule exists because it protects military members from legal problems involving their spouse’s previous marital partners or other involved individuals. The regulations for what is separate and marital possessions vary depending on how long the couple has been together and separated. It also depends on whether these objects were purchased during their relationship. However, some general guidelines explain how to divide all of this property.

How Property is Divided

All property and possessions that both spouses own (marital and separate) will be divided as they would in a civilian divorce case, with some exceptions:

  • The court usually allows military members to keep personal items such as medals and decorations.
  • The service member may ask for compensation for lost wages or earning potential due to their spouse’s adultery.
  • Their pension plan cannot be part of this division. Rather, it is considered a special fund that requires an additional process to be distributed
  • Assets acquired after separation by either spouse are considered separate.
  • A different set of criteria applies when the marriage has lasted less than two years, where all assets and property acquired after the date of separation are considered separate.
  • Property brought into a marriage by a person before they were married is usually considered separate property, even if it was bought during their marriage.
  • The spouse might ask for additional compensation to cover legal fees and court costs if their spouse’s adultery caused them distress because of the legal proceedings.

Steps involved before the division of property starts

Before any division of assets starts, all military couples must attend a marriage counseling process. It is mandatory in every state by law that both service members who want a divorce must take this step, yet there are some exceptions to waive the counseling. Such a requirement does not mean that each side will receive marital counseling or advice, because it is strictly about helping them understand the impact an affair has on a military member and its relation to their service.

The next step after counseling encompasses exchanging divorce data forms available from legal offices. The service member who files for divorce must give their spouse these forms to get more detailed financial information. Such a type of meeting usually takes place at least ten days before the court date, depending on your state’s rules. However, it can be postponed if one side believes that issues should be resolved before being sent to a judge.

Once all relevant paperwork has been filed with both sides presenting their cases, they go through what is known as an “Adversarial Proceeding,” where lawyers will start to build a case based on evidence submitted by each side. The lawyer can use the evidence to convince the judge that one party is at fault or that both are equally responsible for destroying their marriage. It may be presented to show reasons why divorce should not be granted.

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