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Military and civilian divorce aren't handled the same

When individuals discuss their experiences with divorce, they often share similar stories no matter what state they live in or where they're at in their life. This isn't the case though. Where a couple lives can impact how marital property is split up or how custody matters are decided. Then, if we compare a civilian to a military divorce, there are even more differences.

One stark difference between the two types of divorce is where a military spouse is eligible to file. They are generally able to do so either in the state that they originally come from or the one where their spouse is stationed.

Another aspect of military divorces that is different from civilian ones is how judges handle child custody matters. Since service members are forced to relocate frequently, they tend to steer clear from awarding primary custody to them. They often enjoy generous visitation with their kids instead.

If a service member is deployed when the divorce filing or child custody matter is scheduled to be heard, then the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) kicks in. This federal law allows all such hearings to be stalled while a soldier is fighting missions abroad.

Determining how much a service member makes so that a judge can order them to pay child support isn't always easy to figure out. Once an order is entered in though, the soldier has the obligation to pay it much like any civilian. The military may discipline its service members who fail to make timely payments though.

Spousal support is also different for those going through a military divorce than those involved in civilian ones. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA), any military retirement pay is treated like property.

What this means is that any spouse married to a service member for at least 10 years is entitled to a portion of their ex's military pay. Anyone married for 20 years or more is able to continue receiving full benefits.

Making sense of where you can file for divorce and the pros and cons of doing so isn't easy. Understanding how the SCRA and USFSPA applies to your case isn't either. A Colorado Springs military divorce attorney can help guide you in making the right decisions for your family as you move forward with this transition in your life.

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