It is not uncommon for someone to assume that a military divorce requires a completely different process than a typical divorce. The truth is, the term “military divorce” simply means when one or both spouses are either active in the military or retired. Thus, a military divorce is not a completely different process than typical divorce proceedings. The divorce still takes place in a civilian court in front of a domestic relations judge, just as would be in any other family law matter. However, though the proceedings are similar in nature, the issues that arise in these proceedings are quite different. 

Because there are certain problems that arise that are specific to military divorce proceedings, it is essential that you have an experienced family law attorney who specializes in military divorce. Luckily, Michael J. Vergis is more than qualified to represent military members in their divorce proceedings. If you are considering filing for a military divorce or have been served with divorce papers from your spouse, contact the law offices of Michael J. Vergis today to see how he can help.

Military Divorce Laws

Some laws that you may need to be familiar with when it comes to military divorce include the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act grants military members a few protections. This includes the postponement or “stay” of civil court and other administrative proceedings, so long as the service member can prove they were unable to attend because of duty. It also offers certain protections for things such as failing to respond to a lawsuit or failing to appear at trial.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, on the other hand, applies not to the military member but to his or her former spouse (as made evident by its title). This law provides certain benefits to an un-remarried former military spouse, such as medical (TRICARE), commissary, exchange, and theater privileges. However, under the “20/20/20” rule, he or she must first meet certain requirements. These requirements include:

  • The former spouse must have been married to the service member for at least 20 years before initiating divorce proceedings.
  • The service member has performed 20 or more years of service that is credible in determining retirement pay eligibility.
  • The former spouse was married to the service member during 20 or more years of his or her retirement-creditable service.

Under the “20/20/15” rule, former spouses may only be entitled to receive TRICARE medical insurance coverage for one year following the date of the divorce, but only if they satisfy the following requirements:

  • The service member has performed 20 or more years of creditable service.
  • The marriage lasted 20 or more years.
  • The time of marriage overlaps the time of service by at least 15 years. 

There are several other laws and rules that come into play when dealing with divorce in the military. It is important that you have an attorney who fully understands these laws so that you may also understand them better. Overall, the knowledge and experience a Louisiana military divorce lawyer like Michael J. Vergis can offer can lead to better decisions and more successful outcomes.

Military Divorce Process: What Makes it Different?

Divorces in the military tend to pose some unique problems in comparison to civilian divorce. It still requires heavy litigation and mediation to protect your assets and ensure you receive a fair distribution of property, but the property in question may be different. For example, perhaps the most obvious matter that makes the military divorce process unique is the issue of military retirement accounts and benefits. The management and distribution of these assets and benefits require different considerations than a typical retirement account might. It is important that the lawyer representing you knows how to address such issues.

Another thing that makes this process unique is the establishing of child custody and visitation rights. It is particularly common for active duty service members to receive orders that station them in another state or even another country. This makes child custody arrangements an especially challenging matter for divorced military families. 

Yet another common issue that comes up with military divorce is the issue of knowing where to file the divorce. As a military family, it is likely that the servicemember and his or her spouse have moved around since the beginning of their marriage. However, the state where you were married is irrelevant to your divorce. It is only where you and your spouse choose to file for a divorce that will affect your proceedings. This is because the courts need to be able to establish jurisdiction over you and your spouse. To do so, three points may be met: military divorce may be filed in a state where 1) the military spouse lives, 2) the military spouse is a resident, and 3) both spouses agree upon the state. 

Military Divorce Lawyer 

Service members and eligible family members may obtain free legal advice through installation legal assistance offices provided by the military. Through these legal assistance services, a service member and his or her spouse may receive separate legal assistance that includes mediation, advice, and notary services. However, legal assistance attorneys cannot represent the clients in court. That is why having a private attorney with knowledge in military divorce may be the most beneficial to your case.

At the Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis, we provide military families with unparalleled service in a competent and caring manner while working diligently to provide the best possible outcome. To discuss your individual circumstances with a skilled military divorce attorney in the Shreveport and Bossier City areas, reach out to Michael J. Vergis right away. You can call today at 318-698-3724 or complete the contact form found on our home page to request your consultation.