Our troops give so much by serving our country. These servicemen and women risk their lives, serve long tours of duty overseas far from home, and ask for nothing in return. The reality of their situation can put a lot of stress on their relationships back home, and many military service members unfortunately find themselves facing divorce due to the distance and time spent away from spouses.
The Differences Between Military Divorce and Civilian Divorce
The divorce-related issues facing military members are different than those faced by civilians during divorce. Divorce proceedings that involve a military service person who is either active duty or retired are subject to special rules, and the divorce is commonly distinguished by being referred to as a “military divorce.” These special rules/issues involve special protections given to deployed service members and division of military pension rules.
Legal Protection for Deployed Service Men and Women
An active serviceman or woman is legally protected from being served divorce papers while they are serving out a deployment. The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, now known as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, protects those serving in the military by postponing any divorce proceedings naming them until after they return from duty. Those actively serving in a war also get the benefit of an additional 60 days of postponement upon return home.
It is in the best interest of the public that our servicemen and women are able to devote their full energy and attention to their duty while serving overseas. That is why they are granted this legal period of postponement. Delaying divorce proceedings until their return also protects these individuals from entering default for failing to respond to a divorce action while away on duty.
Division of Military Pension
One of the benefits for serving in the armed forces is that military personnel earn a pension for their time served, and under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, former spouses can be awarded a portion of their military ex-spouse’s retirement pension by the state court as part of a property award to the non-military spouse. This is not to say that the non-military spouse will be entitled to a portion of the military spouse’s pension, but rather than if there are no other marital assets to share between the spouses during the divorce, the court can award a portion of the military pension instead. There are special rules that apply, however, and an experienced military divorce attorney could inform you about those special rules if you have any questions.
Similarities Between Military Divorce and Civilian Divorce
Many basic divorce procedural matters are the same when comparing a military divorce and a civilian divorce, including:
- Establishing South Carolina Jurisdiction. In order for the South Carolina family court to oversee a military divorce, the residency requirement must be satisfied, and service of process must be made
- Residency Requirements. In order to establish residency in South Carolina, either of the spouses must live in the state, the military spouse must be stationed in South Carolina or the military spouse identifies him or herself as legal resident of South Carolina for tax purposes.
- Grounds for Divorce. The grounds for a divorce are the same as they are for civilian divorces. There are at-fault divorce grounds, meaning that one spouse did something that makes the marriage not reparable, and no-fault divorce grounds.
- Service of Divorce Papers. Divorce filings must be personally served on the military spouse in order for the South Carolina Courts to have jurisdiction. This means a summons and a copy of the divorce action must be supplied to the military member.
Contact A Charleston Divorce Lawyer
The experienced Charleston family lawyers at Sarji Law Firm, LLC have helped many individuals obtain divorces from their ex spouses. Whether you are a military service person, or are married to one, we can help you with your military divorce. Please contact us by calling 843-323-4341.