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Divorce can present unique legal considerations when one or both parties are military personnel. Legal guidance and strategy from our San Diego military divorce lawyer helps you tackle challenges and reduce the emotional strain of divorce on you and your family. We apply our considerable military divorce experience to negotiate on your behalf with your spouse’s lawyer and obtain the best possible outcome for your situation.

Understanding Military Divorce in San Diego: Special Considerations

Military divorce laws in California are subject to federal and state laws. They’re also subject to military rules and regulations. 

Military spouses may have to wait a long time before their divorces are complete due to military legal procedures. Sometimes, the state laws take precedence over military laws. A spouse protection law will not be applicable because of a state law. 

In California, the laws vary from other states. For example, the Military Spouses Protection Act (MPPA) gives you certain rights that you wouldn’t be entitled to in other states. The law provides military spouses protections against abuse and financial hardship. It also requires the state courts to provide military families with at least one parent who has physical custody of a child and an appropriate parenting plan. 

Deployment, jurisdiction, child custody and support, division of benefits, and other issues can create entanglements. Our competent military divorce lawyers are keenly familiar with these challenges. Armed with a strong knowledge of army divorce regulations and California divorce laws, we make the oft-complex process simpler for everyone involved. 

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): Your Shield During Divorce

The SRCA provides financial and legal protection for active-duty services members and their families. It delays the prosecution of civil lawsuits filed against service members, including divorce, custody, and paternity proceedings. It also protects against default judgments. 

Stay of civil proceedings: The court may pause on civil proceedings involving an active-duty service member for at least 90 days.

Relief from civil judgments: In a civilian divorce, if a spouse does not respond to summons, they are in default. The judge can then issue a default judgment, which can include all the orders requested with regard to child support, alimony, and property. If a military spouse ignores the summons due to being on active duty, they are not held in default.

Key Differences Between Military and Civilian Divorce

Divorce rates among active duty troops have remained stable. Yet, the divorce rate among US military members is nearly twice the average national divorce rate. Military couples are more likely to divorce than their civilian counterparts. 

Military divorce differs from civilian divorce in quite a few ways. It’s easier in some respects and less so in other aspects.

Residency requirements

In a civilian divorce, you’re required to file for divorce in the state where you and your spouse meet residency requirements. To file for a military divorce in California, at least one spouse must be a resident of California for a minimum of six months. In addition, they must have stayed in the filing county for a minimum of three months.

No default judgment

If you’re a non-serving spouse and you file for divorce while your spouse is deployed or on active duty, then different rules apply. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), active-duty military members are protected from civil judicial proceedings. 

Dividing military pensions and benefits is a complex affair

The same rules that apply for civilian divorces in community property and equitable distribution states apply. In a community property state like California, marital assets are split 50/50.

Other property division rules are unique to military divorce. For example, eligible service members receive direct payments of military retirement pay from Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). Non-serving spouses may also be entitled to receive pension through DFAS if they meet the 10/10 Rule. According to the rule, the spouse must complete 20 years of service and be married for at least 10 years during the 20 years of creditable service.

If this criteria is not met, then the spouse receives only a portion of the military retired pay directly from their military spouse. Like all 401(k) type plans, the non-serving spouse may also be entitled to a portion of funds in a Thrift Savings plan (TSP).

Child custody in military divorce is the same as civilian divorce

Military duty and trailing spouse syndrome tend to contribute to military divorces. During this difficult time, spouses focus on ensuring the best interests of their children. Matters of custody, support, and relocation are well thought-out. 

A child’s relocation is often seen when spouses are engaged in a custody battle. The relocation should happen only under extreme circumstances when the order for child custody is being developed. 

Spouses can get adversarial over visitation rights, particularly when the children are living with one parent. The courts tend to grant temporary custody to the parent who is home more often. It’s difficult for the deployed parent to challenge this decision as they aren’t physically present to make their case. 

By working with our San Diego military divorce lawyer, you’ll ease the burden of challenges and situations unique to your case. With a clearer idea of the nuances of your case, you’ll know the best course of action to take. 

Protecting Your Rights: Military Dissolution with Garwood Reeves

California is a no-fault state, meaning that the spouse seeking divorce doesn’t have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong. Issues like adultery or desertion can be brought up for consideration during child custody hearing and property division. 

The grounds for filing for a military divorce in California are the same as that for a civilian divorce. You can cite irreconcilable differences or prove the permanent legal incapacity of one spouse, that is, the spouse is permanently unable to make rational decisions. 

Our San Diego military divorce lawyers ensure that your rights and assets are guarded. We advise that you reach a mutually agreeable decision with your spouse, especially when children are involved. If your best efforts at an amicable separation are not reciprocated, we provide assertive representation to gain a favorable outcome. 

Trust the Experts: Garwood Reeves Military Divorce Lawyers

We help you avoid the pitfalls that military families tend to face in divorce proceedings. Talk to a San Diego military divorce lawyer from our team to discuss the details of your case.