Divorce cases can often be complicated and messy even before considering the factors impacting military families. Spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support payments are commonly contentious areas of the divorce process, and adding the additional complications brought about by the frequent relocations, deployments, insurance and benefits, and housing situations unique to military personnel can make them doubly so.
Further complicating matters is the way military divorces often involve laws at both the state and the federal level. It can also be difficult to determine the appropriate area to file for divorce, as well as how future deployments will impact the divorce case and subsequent rulings.
Can a Divorce be Started While the Service Member is Deployed?
While there are some ways to begin a divorce while one spouse is deployed, it is often difficult to do so and is generally a better idea to simply wait until their deployment has ended. In the absence of some extreme circumstances, you will put in a considerable amount of time, effort, and money only to wait until they have returned home anyway.
If you are set on beginning the divorce process while the military spouse is actively deployed the biggest hurdle to overcome is their location. In order to set your divorce proceedings in motion, they will need to be located somewhere with a functioning government that follows the service of the process outlined in the Hague Convention. As you might imagine, many of the locations the members of our armed forces end up do not meet this qualification. Taking things a step further, military members may use their rights under the Civil Relief Act to slow down the divorce process while deployed or on active duty so long as they can demonstrate that they face difficulties in participating.
How Long Can Military Divorces Take?
Military divorces vary in the time they take to finalize, no different than any other. They can be delayed significantly if either spouse is deployed or on active duty, and the usual factors that can slow down a divorce still apply. If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on how the divorce will move ahead it can add significant time to the process. Common areas that create friction in the divorce process include the division of assets, spousal support payments, and drafting custody agreements.
It is also important to remember that the state of Colorado requires couples to be separated for 6 months before initiating the divorce process. At least one of the spouses must also have lived in Colorado for a minimum of 90 days prior to filing for divorce. All of this adds up to mean that military divorces are rarely quick, but it can be difficult to say exactly how long any particular case will take.
Keep in mind that your behavior and conduct throughout your divorce can have an impact on your military career. Dating or maintaining a relationship while you are going through a divorce could result in you facing a disciplinary hearing.
Is the Spouse Entitled to Military Benefits
There are two primary ways those in military service may be required to support a military spouse following a divorce.
The first is through some form of family support. This includes both spousal maintenance and child support payments if there is a valid claim. The different branches of the military have each set different regulations determining the level of support family members may receive in the event of separations, though a valid agreement or court order may overrule these. Family support will also be established in line with Colorado law and court-ordered child support will be required to follow the guidelines established in Colorado.
The second method involves tapping directly into the pay of the military member. Those in military service may face wage garnishments or garnishment of military retirement and VA disability benefits in certain situations.
What are the Risks of Completing a Military Divorce Without an Attorney?
There are several marked disadvantages that go along with attempting to manage your divorce case without a lawyer. Not only does navigating the laws surrounding a divorce require specialized knowledge, but the inherently personal nature of the divorce can often lead to rash decision-making that can negatively impact your case. Attempting to go forward without representation can easily see you facing the following:
- A significantly longer divorce process as you handle significant amounts of unfamiliar paperwork. Any mistakes or missed forms will only serve to draw the case out considerably.
- Incorrectly reported property or financial statements can leave you in a poor position while dividing marital assets and can lead to penalties if you fail to divulge everything.
- Complications with child support calculations and parenting plans. The exact details of your situation can significantly change your child support obligations and you may find yourself paying more than you should. Similarly, parenting plans are required to include specifics and to follow state guidelines. Failing to adhere to these will require the plan to be redrafted, or could result in the judge creating one themselves.
If you or your spouse are a member of our armed forces and you are considering a divorce you will want the expertise and in-depth knowledge offered by a qualified divorce attorney. At The Law Office of Jeanne M. Wilson & Associates, we have extensive experience with military divorce and dealing with the unique legal issues faced by members of our armed forces. Our dedicated legal team is ready to provide you with the legal representation you will need to navigate your case. Call us today or schedule a free initial consultation online to see what we can do for you.
There is no legal distinction between civilian and military divorces. Members of the military may find, however, that there are several factors unique to them that can complicate the divorce process. If you or your spouse are a member of the armed forces and you are considering a divorce, you should take the time to find an experienced Colorado Springs military divorce lawyer. At The Law Office of Jeanne M. Wilson & Associates, we are prepared to tackle the complications common in military divorces. Contact one of our family law attorneys today to schedule a free case consultation to see how we can help.