Los Angeles Military Divorce Lawyers
Men and women across America serve our country in the armed forces and sacrifice much. Sadly, sometimes, they even sacrifice their marriage. Of course, all divorces can be stressful and emotional. When one or both spouses are members in the military, the complexities often increase significantly because military divorces have additional legal issues.
Many parts of a military divorce are just like a civilian divorce, but there are some unique aspects associated with military service.
These include determining pension benefits and whether post-divorce benefits apply, where to file a divorce petition, tax consequences, calculation of spousal support and child support, evaluating spouse’s retirement savings and investment plan, and more.
If there are minor children in the military marriage, the total amount of child support and spousal support combined, can’t exceed 60% of the military spouse’s pay and benefits.
If you or your spouse is a member of the military and you are considering going your separate ways, you may be wondering if you need to hire a military divorce attorney in Los Angeles.
If you want to ensure your interests are accurately and fully represented, the answer is yes. Military divorces are mostly the same as civilian divorces, with some exceptions, and it is crucial that you are aware of how these differences apply in your own divorce case.
To give readers a better understanding of a military divorce, our California divorce lawyers are providing an overview below.
Requirements for Serving Divorce Papers
Even though military members are not civilians, their divorces are handled in civilian state court. State and federal laws apply in your California military divorce. It should be noted the purpose of the law is to prevent military spouses from being judged in default if they fail to act on an unexpected divorce.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act allows a divorce proceeding to be suspended during the time a military spouse is on active military duty, and for up to 60 days afterwards. It should be noted that while a military spouse can take advantage of this Act, they also have the right to waive the Act and proceed with the divorce.
The non-military spouse needs to have the military spouse on active duty served with the divorce petition, and this has to be done in person so the California court can maintain jurisdiction, but there is an exception if military spouse files an affidavit.
Grounds for a military divorce in California are the same as a civilian divorce, and most are filed under the no-fault laws and simply claim “irreconcilable differences.” See California Family Code 2310.
Where to File for Military Divorce
The military member can file for divorce in the state where they are stationed, their state of residence, or the civilian spouse can file in their state of residency.
As with any legal proceeding, serving your spouse with legal documents in the correct manner is imperative to the success of your case.
If your spouse lives off-base, the process of serving them with divorce papers is the same as a civilian divorce. You have the option of delivering the documents in person or via mail with a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt (Form POS-015).
However, if your spouse lives on a military base, service must take place via a process server or a sheriff. The filing spouse can ask for assistance from base officials in making the receiving spouse available to receive the papers, and they can also use a Los Angeles military divorce attorney to ensure the paperwork is delivered as it should be.
If the spouse who needs to receive the divorce papers is living overseas, the filing spouse can send the documents by certified mail and request a return receipt.
Although, if you are the filing spouse, be aware that some countries require service to be completed in other ways, and not all military facilities are able to receive certified mail or will send a return receipt. It is best to contact the base operations manager and your attorney to follow whatever process is necessary.
Active-duty members of the military are allowed to delay certain civil court proceedings, which include divorce proceedings for up to 90 days or longer in some cases.
This law is in place because sometimes their service, especially if they are overseas, can prevent them from fully participating in the legal process. A military divorce lawyer in Los Angeles could help you determine if a possible delay applies in your case under this Act.
Summary Dissolution of Military Marriages
When a military divorce is uncontested and relatively simple, the couple might choose a summary dissolution of their marriage. To qualify for such an option, couples must meet the following requirements:
- Be married for five years or less
- Have no children
- Have minimal assets and debts
- Not be seeking alimony
If the couple qualifies, each spouse will need to complete, sign, and file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (Form FL-800).
If one spouse happens to be overseas, they can send their completed and signed paperwork to the other spouse, who can file the joint petition for both of them.
What Happens to Assets in a Military Divorce?
Since divorces are handled in civilian court, the assets in a California divorce are handled under the concept of community property.
California law considers any property acquired during the marriage to be community property, which must be split evenly. If the property was acquired by one spouse before the marriage, the court will likely determine it still belongs to that spouse and is not the property of the marriage.
For military couples, one of their most significant assets is usually their pension. A military pension is distributed according to state law, as well.
It’s should be noted that you need to understand how the state deals with the division of military pensions. The federal law governing division of military pensions is the “Uniformed Services Spouses’ Protection Act.” It states disposable retired pay received as non disability military retirement earned during marriage is community property that is subjected to division on divorce.
It is essential for civilian spouses going through a divorce to know they may have certain benefits available to them. Working with an experienced Los Angeles military divorce lawyer could help you receive all of the benefits you might be entitled to receive.
For example, a civilian spouse who is married for a long time to a military member might be entitled to benefits under this Act. Benefits might include:
- Health insurance
- Medical care
- Base exchange shopping privileges
Military Divorce Attorney in Los Angeles
It’s never a wise decision for a non-military spouse to try to get around military notification requirements. If your divorce petition doesn’t disclose your spouse’s military status, any default judgment could be set aside.
Due to the fact there are additional issues to be addressed with a California military divorce, you need to make sure your rights are protected. Our divorce lawyers will review your marital assets while also considering retirement benefits of the military spouse.
Going through a divorce while one spouse is serving in the military can be quite stressful, but we are here to help you be aware of all of your options and rights.
Call our divorce attorneys or use the online contact form to schedule your military divorce consultation.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County. We are located at 15821 Ventura Blvd #690 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (818) 528-3471.