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Military divorce: what are service member rights?

For those who are in the military, divorce may seem like a complicated process. What are the service member rights for those going through a divorce? Where does one even file for a military divorce? For the thousands of military personnel in Florida, these questions may be all too valid.

First of all, for military personnel who wish to get a divorce, it will require a civil suit in state court just as it does for the public. Since most states require a person to live in the state in order to file for divorce there, this can sometimes be an issue. Some states may relax the residency requirements for service members. An experienced family lawyer can help a client determine if this is true in the state they are in.

A service member does have the right to file for divorce. He or she also has the right to decide where to file. While every state still has a no-fault divorce, some may have a way to fault one party. This can impact how child custody is granted, child support is determined and property is divided.

Each individual state can decide how spousal support, pensions, pay, child support, property, and other assets and payments are divided and made. The state can even decide how the divorce will affect the service person's compensation and military benefits. Military pensions are considered to be either sole property or community property, determined by the state court.

Because the military's benefits are complicated compared to civilian divorce assets, any service member facing divorce may choose to have a family attorney who is knowledgeable in military divorce. He or she can advise their clients on their service member rights and explain each aspect of the divorce, property division and custodial determination. For Florida service members, this could make the difference in how the divorce will go, and what the client may gain or lose.

Source: findlaw.com, "Divorce in the Military", Accessed on May 1, 2017

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