A divorce is often a challenging process and can benefit from trusted legal representation to protect your rights and interests. If one or both spouses are enlisted in the military, the divorce presents additional specificities that can complicate a broad range of matters.
A military divorce can impact:
- The timeline of proceedings
- Benefits division
- Child custody and support
The unique rules of military divorces offer protection for both active-duty members and their former spouses. Understanding specific Ohio and federal laws that govern a military divorce can help you get a clearer understanding of the filing process, asset division, and parental planning.
To meet the residency requirements to file for divorce in Ohio, at least one spouse has lived in the state for six months or is stationed there. The military spouse must personally serve the active-duty member with the necessary paperwork for a local court to handle the divorce process.
Grounds for divorce in Ohio are the same for military and civilian. Ohio recognizes no-fault and at-fault divorces. No-fault divorces usually cite incompatibility, while at-fault divorce grounds include adultery, extreme cruelty, and habitual drunkenness.
Both Ohio and federal laws protect active-duty military if their spouse decides to file for divorce without informing them. Contrary to civilian divorces, a military divorce petition cannot default if an active-duty member does not respond within the standard timeframe.
The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act authorizes the active-duty military to request a postponement. A local Ohio judge can allow this postponement to last while the military spouse is on active duty or until 60 days after their deployment in a war. In the case of an uncontested divorce, the active-duty member can waive the postponement.
Military Spouse and Child Protection
If you file for divorce in Ohio and at least one spouse is military, a judge considers both the state’s property division laws and the Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act, also known as USFSPA.
The USFSPA applies to:
- All active duty, reserve, and retired military
- The U.S. Coast Guard,
- Members of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)
- The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
To allow a retired military to provide part of their retirement pension to a former spouse, federal laws require that the couple have been married for at least 10 years while the military spouse was on active duty.
Regarding child support, a military member is required to provide for their child and former spouse, which can impact their wages up to 60 percent under Ohio law.
Benefits of Hiring a Military Divorce Attorney
Working with an experienced family law attorney during any divorce proceedings is always important, but it can be especially useful for a military divorce due to its specificities. Whether you opt for an uncontested or contested divorce, a reputable lawyer can protect your interests and ensure that all paperwork is appropriately filled out. This can alleviate your stress and simplify the process.
A divorce lawyer can help:
- Ensure you meet residency requirements
- File all forms correctly
- Determine grounds for divorce
- Negotiate marital property division, child support, and alimony
- Address concerns about military pensions or base privileges
An attorney specializing in military divorces is also familiar with particular benefits and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act.