Service member rights: Managing the military divorce process

A marriage breakdown can be especially difficult when one partner is a service member. Divorce in the military comes with its own set of unique challenges and must take into consideration service member rights. Although state laws govern divorce, certain federal laws and regulations regarding the military may apply to a military divorce situation. Florida military members have access to certain no-cost services such as advice pertaining to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and income taxes, for starters.

Under the SCRA, court proceedings regarding the divorce could be postponed or stayed if the service member is unable to attend because of duty. There are also protections for failing to respond to a lawsuit or appear at trial if the service member is on duty. Military spouses can also access military legal assistance services through installation legal assistance offices; however, a military lawyer cannot represent anyone in a family court. That is reserved for a civilian attorney.

The federal Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act gives certain benefits to former spouses of military members. The Morale, Welfare and Recreation program allows a former spouse who has not remarried to receive medical, commissary, exchange and theater privileges and other benefits if he or she meets certain qualifications. It is usually best for military members to file for divorce in the United States since some foreign divorces aren’t recognized in this country.

A Florida lawyer who understands service member rights and has had experience with military divorces may be able to provide guidance when it comes to the sometimes confusing aspects of the process. Being deployed and going through a marital breakup is often incredibly stressful. Knowing an attorney may be able to help might reduce some of the potential anxiety the situation and process might cause.