Military divorces are like civilian divorces in some ways and unlike them in others. It is helpful to understand the military divorce process and how active deployment can impact the divorce process for both the military spouse and the non-military spouse.
In some ways, there is a timeline involved with the divorce process even after the divorce is concluded and the parties begin to move on with their lives and life invariably changes as they move forward into the future. This is true in circumstances of military divorce, but also in circumstances of civilian divorce as well. The impact of divorce can be felt well into the future, which is why the family law process provides resources to help couples through the divorce process and beyond.
The divorce process can be a challenging time for any couple but a military divorce can include some unique challenges civilian couples may not face when divorcing. Special rules and requirements, and both state and federal laws, impact military divorces which is why it is helpful for divorcing military couples to understand the military divorce process.
There are special rules and requirements that apply to military divorce. State and federal military laws apply to service members and their spouses, making the process different than that for civilians. Service members cannot be sued or begin divorce proceedings while on active duty under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Also, the court may exclude service members from such proceedings for 60 days after active duty.
The Blended Retirement System (BRS) goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. It will make some changes to the military retirement system and other military laws. Many Mississippians believe the BRS will increase the complexity of military divorce cases, and these cases may have different results, depending on the state the divorce is filed.
Getting a divorce requires spouses to make important decisions, such as how property will be divided, whether alimony will be paid, who will have child custody and child visitation. In Mississippi, there are two types of divorce -- fault-based (contested) and no-fault (uncontested).
Mississippi service members are entitled to military allowance packages, which give them tax-free compensation for living costs. Allowances provide financial assistance for any services or facilities not provided by the military, including housing, subsistence, cost of living, clothing, overseas housing and family separation. Service members with dependents may qualify for a Family Separation Allowance (FSA) depending on their circumstances. To be eligible for FSA, service members must be subject to an enforced family separation under one of four conditions.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women has been physically abused by an intimate partner, including those in Mississippi. Domestic violence is at the root of many divorces and military divorces are no exception. The Department of the Army's policy is to prevent spouse and child abuse, protect and treat victims of abuse and train personnel to intervene in abuse cases. To accomplish this mission, the U.S. Army Family Advocacy Programs were established.
All divorcing parents should create a parenting plan outlining the child's primary residence, a schedule for parenting time, holidays, transportation and other factors. It is especially important for divorcing military parents to create such an agreement given the possibility of reassignments and overseas deployments. While civilian parenting plans and military family care plans are similar in many ways, there are some special considerations for military couples.
A previous blog post discussed a case that came before the Supreme Court of the United States, Howell v. Howell. The Court has now released its final ruling in this case regarding the proper distribution of benefits following a retired service member's divorce.