Montgomery County Military Divorce Lawyer Representing Members of the Armed Forces
Military Divorce in Montgomery County, PA
It takes a lot of endurance to go through a divorce while on active duty deployment. Not only do you have to deal with the emotional strife that naturally comes with such an experience, but you also have to go through all the different legal procedures of divorce, even though it’s the last thing you want. However, your divorce can be made smoother with legal assistance from a qualified Montgomery County military divorce attorney. Call the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz at (610) 645-0100 or (866) 724-8429 for immediate assistance. We offer a FREE initial consultation.
Whether you are a soldier or a marine, an airman or a sailor, we can help you resolve your Montgomery County divorce issues – child support and custody, division of assets, visitation and alimony – with favorable results. We are thoroughly familiar with the laws concerning military divorce and can give you the specialized, personalized services you need to build a better tomorrow.
Military Divorce Requirements in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the grounds for a military divorce are no different from the grounds for a civilian divorce, so the same fault, no-fault, and mutual consent rules apply. As for filing requirements, both spouses must reside and be stationed in Pennsylvania.
When one spouse is deployed out of state, they can consent to the divorce initiated by the other spouse moving forward under the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania. This is done through signing an affidavit of consent. The member of the military at the receiving end of the divorce must be personally served with the relevant documents.
Other areas of jurisdiction where a military divorce can proceed can include:
- The state where the member has had a residency for the past six months
- The state where a non-military spouse has had a residency for the past six months
- The state where the member files their taxes
- The state where the member is stationed
Rights in a Military Divorce
When it comes to family law issues, military service personnel enjoy a number of special legal rights and safeguards, including the following:
- Under The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), the military member can request the temporary suspension of legal divorce proceedings and transactions for as long as they are fulfilling the terms of service.
- Military retirement benefits can be made exempt from the marital estate by converting them to veterans’ disability payments.
There are also state and federal laws which protect military spouses. For instance, military spouses are entitled to a portion of disposable retirement pay, and service members cannot convert pay to disability payments once an order has been established.
Relocation Issues in Military Custody Cases
When divorce hits military families, it’s always a good idea to include special provisions for service members in regard to possible relocation in the future. Although custody arrangements are generally subject to state laws, many courts are sympathetic to the challenges faced by military parents after a divorce. A judge always has the right to prohibit any relocation order that’s not in the best interests of a child, however.
When a military parent who has been restationed requests to remove children from the agreed-upon jurisdiction, the judge will need to see written verification of the orders, and the parent will have to explain how the move will benefit the children.
In Pennsylvania, if a parent with custodial rights moves away to fulfill her military duties, she may be able to transfer those rights to a family member. This can be a wonderful benefit for your child and relatives such as grandparents. To allow someone in your family to be granted temporary custody rights while you are away, you must file a petition in court together with your relative before you leave for active duty. The petition must include a proposed schedule of care for the child by one or more family members, and the court must agree that this arrangement is in the child’s best interest.
Property Division in a Military Divorce
In addition to state laws, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) governs aspects of the property division process in a military divorce. More specifically, the USFSPA administers the calculation, division, and allocation of military retirement benefits. The military spouse is entitled to a portion of the retirement benefits only if they have been married to the military member for 10 years or longer during service.
There are some special considerations in a military divorce:
- Serving papers to a military member: Unless the divorce is consensual, the filing party must serve the divorce petition to the other spouse. If you know the base where your spouse is serving, you can send the papers to their commanding officer, who is required to take care of it. However, this could take some time, particularly if the service member is out in the field or deployed overseas.
- How long does military divorce take? An uncontested divorce can be completed in a matter of weeks, but a contested divorce can take several months, maybe even years in some cases if the active-duty spouse exercises their SCRA rights to suspend the proceedings until they are finished with their military service.
- The 20/20/20 rule: If you are married to someone for over 20 years and they served in the military for at least 20 years while you were married, you can get substantial benefits as long as your spouse is still in the military at the time of your divorce. This includes access to military exchange, commissary privileges, installation privileges, your own military ID, and TRICARE, so long as you have not remarried and you aren’t enrolled in an employee health plan.
Non-military spouses can retain certain benefits with their identification card, even if they don’t meet the 20/20/20 rule as well. This includes healthcare, commissary, and exchange priviledges. Non-military spouses should also be aware of the following:
- You can lose installation housing access within 30 days of a military spouse moving out.
- You may be able to obtain financial assistance from the military for moving costs and include a provision for the cost of that in your divorce settlement.
- After losing TRICARE healthcare in a divorce, you have options for additional months of temporary coverage for you and your children through a Department of Defense program.
- Without a court order or agreement in place, you may still be entitled to a form of financial support for you and your children.
Child Support and Spousal Support in a Military Divorce
The state of Pennsylvania does not allow child/spousal support payments to exceed 60 percent of the military member’s pay and allowances. The state’s child support guidelines, worksheets, and schedules apply to military divorce procedures.
Proud to Serve Those Who Serve the Nation
At The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., we are proud to serve the brave men and women who sacrifice so much of themselves to defend our nation. If you are a service member facing divorce, please let us help you get through this difficult period in your life. We will make every possible effort to resolve your legal matters in an efficient manner and secure you a better future.
- Divorce in the Military: How to Divide a Pension
- The US Models for Child Support Orders & Child Support Modification
- Should Military Deployment Be Considered in Custody Battles?