Recruits join the service for different reasons, but most new service members can feel dismayed at the number of military rules and regulations. They soon encounter the Uniform Code of Military Justice; these laws belong to the military and, in addition, each service branch has its own set of rules. Service members also need to know when and how to follow civilian laws.
After spending time in the service, members may suspect there is a law for everything. For example, military members must use a military-approved pen; there is a 16-page document outlining the pen's design and numerous performance specifications.
Military divorce is like landing on foreign shores
Service members who want to dissolve a marriage face an unfamiliar obstacle course of military divorce regulations. Military legal assistance attorneys are available on each base; they can help service members understand general divorce procedures. One surprise for those contemplating divorce is that only a civilian attorney can represent them in divorce court.
Civilian divorce representatives must have expertise in military divorce laws. Decisions can have long-lasting consequences for the filing member. A civilian attorney who practices military family law knows how to maximize benefits for a military client.
The role of a civilian attorney in military divorce
Most service members who file for divorce will need help in primary areas that can apply to both civil and military divorces such as property division, child support, and alimony. The path then diverges into areas specific to military law, including deployment status of each spouse, garnishment of military pay if child support is necessary and many other considerations.
A civilian military divorce expert is essential
If the filing member is responsible for child support, military law requires wage garnishment. Military pay structure will be explained to the court, if necessary, by the civilian divorce attorney since not all courts are familiar with military wages. The service member must arrange with the military base attorney to apply for wage garnishment before the court orders child support payments.
The filing service member is understandably concerned about the labyrinth of financial issues in military divorce. There are ways a civilian representative can construct asset division to protect the service member's share in thrift savings plans, pensions, health insurance, retirement payments, survivor benefits and tax issues.
Military members looking into divorce should not wait to obtain information. Timing can crucially affect decision opportunities. Military and civilian experts can provide consultation to understand best practices.