Active-duty members of the military in San Diego County and across the United States have special rights during a divorce. It’s called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
Through the act, Congress has given military members protections to allow them “to devote their entire energy to the military needs of the nation.”
The law allows a judge to approve the delay of a divorce proceeding throughout the service member’s time of active duty and up to 60 days following.
It doesn’t give military members the right, however, to ignore divorce papers that have been served with them. You will want to let the court know that you are on active duty so that the judge can make a determination to delay the proceedings.
If you are able to pay attention to the divorce while on active duty and don’t necessarily need a delay, it could be to your advantage to finalize the divorce in some haste.
There are some benefits, if you know divorce is the proper action for your family, to hurrying it along. For example, the longer you are in the military and legally married, the more service time you accrue. That can add to your retirement pay, meaning your spouse could receive more of it in divorce.
But just as you, as a military member, are protected by this act, your spouse is entitled to protections, too, under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. That act covers a variety of issues, such as jurisdiction over military retirement pay.
Divorce is complex under all situations, especially if you are in the military. As you consider divorce, or if you are served with divorce papers while in the military, an attorney with experience in military divorces can guide you through what lies ahead.