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3 Major Differences Between Military Divorces and Civilian Divorces


When military service persons get divorced or have other family law matters brought before the California Family Court, the legal process is slightly different than for civilian couples and is referred to as "military divorce" or "military family law". There are certain aspects of legal procedure that are unique to military members and it is important to work with a family law attorney who has knowledge and experience working with military members.

Special Protection From Service of Process While Deployed

When deployed overseas, military members are given legal protection under the Service Members Civil Relief Act. This act protects military members from being served the process of divorce papers, child custody or support papers, alimony papers, and any other legal proceedings. In addtion, if the service member in question returns from deployment in an active war zone, they are protected from service of process for an extra 60 days when they return to the United States. These protections are in place to allow military service members the ability to focus on their job while deployed and to give them adequate time upon returning to get their affairs in order.

Spousal Support/Child Support

While normal child support guidelines are used to arrive at the amount of child support a service member is responsible for, under California law, the combination of spousal support and child support cannot make up more than 60% of the military member's pay and allowances.

Division of Military Pension

Another aspect of military divorce that civilians don't have to deal with is the division of military pensions and other military retirement benefits upon divorcing. In situations where the couple doesn't have many marital assets or debts to split up at the termination of the marriage, under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, ex-spouses of military service members may be entitled to a portion of the service person's military pension. It is not a guarantee that ex-spouses of military members will get a share of the retirement pension, and special rules apply to when a non-service member spouse may be eligible to take advantage of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act. Of particular relevance, only non-service member spouses who were married to an active service member for ten years or more will be eligible under the act.

Contact a Ventura Divorce Attorney

For over 15 years, the team of professionals at Negley Law have worked closely with our clients who are military members to work through their family law issues and we have helped them understand and handle the special considerations that come along with military member status. If you are an active service member in need of legal services, do not hesitate to contact the experienced divorce lawyers at Negley Law. We offer a free initial consultation, and are ready and available to help you. Reach out to us today by calling (805) 464-7315.

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