Military Divorce Lawyers in San Diego Providing Legal Services and Advice for Clients in California
It is estimated that the divorce rate among military members is considerably higher than among civilians. If you are a military member or a military spouse considering getting a divorce in California, it is crucial to understand how military divorces work and the critical role an attorney can play in helping you get through this process.
What Are the Steps to a Military Divorce in California?
In California, the steps to initiating a military divorce are similar to a civilian divorce. First, you must check residency requirements, which means either you or your spouse must have lived or been stationed in California for at least six months and at least three months in the county where you plan to file for divorce.
After verifying that you meet the residency requirements, you will need to gather all relevant documents and fill out the necessary forms. Once they are ready, you will need to file them with your local superior court and pay any applicable fees. Next, you will need to have the Petition and Summons served (delivered) to your spouse. Once your spouse receives it, they will have 30 days to send a response stating whether they agree with the terms of the divorce or not. There are exceptions to the 30-day rule for those who may be deployed or on active duty.
If you and your spouse agree on all aspects of the divorce and can work out a plan for child custody and support, property division, and other issues, you may get an uncontested divorce and submit your plans to a judge for approval. If you cannot agree, your divorce will be contested, and the judge will make those decisions on your behalf.
Are There Differences Between Civilian and Military Divorce?
Civilian and military divorces are very similar, but there are a few key differences that may affect your divorce process, property division, and child custody. First, there are federal laws that regulate divorce for military members, such as the SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act) and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). For example, the SCRA protects military members on active duty from default judgments. This means that the 30-day deadline for responding to a Petition and Summons does not apply to military personnel on active duty. Any divorce proceedings must be postponed until the end of the active duty period and may not commence for another 90 days after the servicemember has returned home.
Military divorces in California are subject to the same property division rules as other divorces, meaning California considers any assets accrued during the marriage to be community property. This means that a military servicemember’s retirement benefits accumulated during the marriage may also be counted as community property. In some cases, the military spouse may receive up to half of their former spouse’s retirement benefits as long as the marriage lasted for at least ten years. It is a good idea to consult an attorney to understand exactly what counts as marital property and how a divorce may affect your military retirement benefits.
Are There Any Laws Protecting Military Spouses in Case of a Divorce?
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) is a federal law that makes former military spouses eligible to receive portions of a military member’s retirement benefits along with medical care and other benefits such as access to military exchanges and commissary, in some cases.
The military member’s disposable retirement pay can be divided between the military member and the former spouse. In addition, if a military member was dishonorably discharged due to abusive behavior against their spouse or dependents, the spouse who was a victim of the abuse may still be eligible to receive a portion of the military member’s retirement benefits, even after the member has lost the right to receive it.
What Can a Military Divorce Attorney Do for Me?
Any type of divorce can be complicated and emotionally draining, but there may be additional obstacles and things to consider when divorcing a military member. At Khosroabadi & Hill, our family attorneys can help you understand your rights in a military divorce and help you navigate the divorce process with clarity and confidence. Reach out to our San Diego office at 858-240-2093 to see how we can help you.