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Military Divorce in Northeast Florida

At the Law Office of Daniel M. Copeland we understand the impact that a divorce will have on military benefits, such as pension and survivor benefits. As with any divorce child custody, time-sharing and division of assets and debts, alimony and other concerns must also be dealt with.

Because there are both state codes and federal laws which govern military divorce, it is important to seek the services of an experienced military divorce attorney who can guide you through this process to help ensure your rights and interests are fully protected.

Grounds for Divorce and Residency Requirements

The grounds for a military divorce are the same as those for a civilian divorce, namely 1) that your marriage is irretrievably broken, or 2) that your spouse is mentally incapacitated.

The residency requirement for a Florida military divorce is that 1) you or your spouse must be a resident in Florida for at least six (6) months, or 2) you or your spouse must be stationed in Florida.

Per the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of December 2003, a "stay of proceedings" may be given, at the discretion of the courts, which would allow for the postponement of divorce proceedings, as follows:

"At any stage thereof any action or proceeding in any court in which a person in military service is involved, either as plaintiff [petitioner] or defendant [respondent], during the period of such service or within sixty days thereafter may, in the discretion of the court in which it is pending, on its own motion, and shall, on application to it by such person or some person on his behalf, be stayed as provided in this Act unless, in the opinion of the court, the ability of plaintiff to prosecute the action or the defendant to conduct his defense is not materially affected by reason of his military service." (50 U.S.C. App. § 521)

This right to postponement may be waived by the active duty member.

There are numerous and lengthy codes which are sometimes complex and variable, in order to account for the various situations which may exist; however, an experienced attorney will help to interpret these laws in order to best advise their client through this process and help work toward a successful outcome.

Active duty can also affect child support obligations. Many military personnel return from a long deployment only to find that very substantial arrearages of child support will need to be paid in short order. The tax-exempt status of the basic allowance for housing, hazardous duty pay, overseas pay, and any combat-related exclusions will not prevent these allowances and bonuses from being figured into your child support obligation. We can go over your Leave and Earnings Statement and help you understand how your child support will be calculated.

Divorce Involving Retired Military Personnel

Any military pension rights could be considered property of the marital estate. But if the marriage and one spouse's military service overlapped for any period of at least 10 years, the nonmilitary spouse's share of the pension, up to half its value, can be paid directly by the government according to the terms of the property settlement or decree under the Former Spouses' Protection Act (FSPA).

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The Law Office of Daniel M. Copeland

9310 Old Kings Road South,
Suite 1501
Jacksonville, FL 32257
Phone: 904-482-0616
Fax: 904-482-0618
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