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Military divorce: Special rules may apply

In many ways, military families are just like civilian families. In some ways, however, service members, their spouses and children often face particular challenges that arise because of deployment, relocation or other military issues that the average civilian family in Washington or elsewhere may not encounter. When it comes to military divorce, certain regulations or state laws may apply that govern proceedings.

Issues in a military divorce are affected by both state and federal laws. For instance, in property division proceedings, federal law would apply to a service member's retirement benefits and other financial issues. Regarding alimony or child support, however, a family court judge would use state guidelines to approve an agreement or make decisions on behalf of the spouses in question.

The issue of jurisdiction is a top priority in any divorce, particularly where one or both spouses is a member of the U.S. armed forces. Such spouses have several choices when it comes to establishing jurisdiction. This may be the state where the service member has legal residence or the state where he or she is stationed at the time. It may also be the state in which the spouse who is filing for divorce resides. Since there are options, it is critical for anyone considering divorce to whom military issues may apply to seek clarification of the laws and guidelines that may affect his or her case.

Other issues such as those involving child custody may be different in a military divorce. For instance, there are laws that protect service members while they are serving overseas, such as an ability to request a stay in child custody proceedings since parents serving abroad are unable to appear in court. Any person in need of legal guidance and support regarding divorce may request a meeting with a Washington attorney who is experienced in such matters as they relate to military families.

 

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