Compassionate and Dedicated Military Divorce Lawyers in Miami, FL
Getting divorced is complicated enough with all the requirements and details to consider. If one or both parties are military members, it creates more issues. Miami Family Law Group, PLLC understands the complexities involved in this situation. Our Miami family lawyers can guide you in your decisions based on the facts of the case.
Miami Military Divorce Lawyer
The outcome of a divorce can permanently shape the future of your life and your family's lives. It is crucial to ensure that your best interests are defended throughout the process. A military divorce adds further layers of complexity to a process that can already be challenging to navigate. Additional federal and state laws apply to military divorces, and challenges can also arise from periods of overseas deployment and state residency requirements.
A final divorce decree outlines the division of property and assets between a couple, child custody arrangements, and child and spousal support payments. Without a doubt, these final arrangements will impact the way that you and your family live in the future. Military divorce is complex by nature. This is partnered with the potential demand of balancing a military career or the stress of re-planning your life as a former spouse. As such, an experienced military divorce attorney gives you the best chance of managing these demands and securing a successful outcome.
Miami Family Law Group, PLLC divorce lawyers have extensive experience helping military members in Miami, FL, and their families navigate the divorce process. We will fight aggressively to defend your rights and achieve the best possible settlement for you. Contact us today at 305-520-7874 to discuss your military divorce case with our legal team.
Florida Military Divorce Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction can usually be a huge issue in a military divorce. Military life is dynamic since personnel is deployed in different states and sometimes other countries. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may live in different towns or cities over several years. Consequently, the issue of legal residence has to be settled.
Like regular divorces, military members are subject to legal requirements in Florida. That includes being a resident in the state for at least six months before filing the divorce papers. If you or your ex has been physically living in Florida for at least six months, there is no problem.
Hiring a seasoned military divorce attorney can help sort these issues from the beginning. Call us at Miami Family Law Group, PLLC to schedule a consultation.
What Makes Military Divorce Different?
All divorces can be a complex process as a couple navigates divorce law and begin dividing their marital estate and agreeing on child custody, child support, and alimony. A military divorce brings further complexities, including additional laws that apply to military divorces and difficulties that may arise from relocating regularly or a spouse who is currently deployed overseas.
Most states have their own set of laws that govern divorce in that location. However, a military divorce is governed by both federal and state law for different aspects, which can vary between states. Typically federal law determines the division of military pensions, while state law applies to child custody and child and spousal support.
Protection For Military Servicepeople In Divorce Proceedings
Complications can arise in the divorce process when a spouse files for divorce but the other spouse is away on military deployment. This deployment may result in a spouse who is not able to respond to the divorce petition. In this situation, under standard family law, a divorce could be granted by default without their input.
However, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects military personnel from this situation. This act protects servicepeople from civil procedure and default judgments when they can't respond or attend court due to active duty. Under this act, military servicemen and women can postpone divorce proceedings while they are actively deployed.
Child custody is always a critical element for couples in any divorce involving children. Often both parents want to secure as much time as possible with their children in their divorce. To decide on child custody arrangements, the family court will always favor the arrangement that is in the best interests of the child or children involved.
When deciding custody of children in a military divorce, the Judge may consider how often a serving military member is deployed. If a spouse is deployed regularly, the Judge may decide that this would not be the best situation for sole custody of a child. Family courts favor stability in a child's life, and if it is in the child's best interests, custody may be awarded to the other parent.
If a parent is looking to amend a custody arrangement while the other parent is deployed on active military duty, it is unlikely that a court will approve this. In most situations, military members' rights are protected while they are on deployment, preventing the amendment of custody arrangements until they return. However, the exception to this is in situations where a child's well-being is at risk, when an amendment may be granted. This risk would need to be proven to the court for the change to be approved.
Florida courts may grant spousal support or alimony under specific circumstances during a divorce. Often alimony is awarded if a spouse can't meet their basic financial needs to maintain their quality of life. The court would look to the main earning spouse to prevent the other spouse from becoming homeless or if they can't afford food, for example. Courts will consider circumstances including both spouses' financial resources, their earning potential, and contributions to the marriage.
In a military divorce, the total amount of support that the other spouse can receive is no more than 60% of the serviceman or woman's salary and allowances. A court can award short, fixed-term alimony, support that is contingent on certain situations, such as a spouse completing education or training, or permanent support.
Serving A Spouse In Active Military Duty
Florida military divorce law has specific regulations around serving an active military member with divorce papers. Papers can only be served on an active military member by an individual appointed by the court or authorized by law. This can become more challenging if the individual is in service overseas.
Military divorce lawyers are well-versed in handling these situations and can support you to implement the best course of action for your circumstances.
Where Can I File For A Military Divorce?
The nature of being in the military often means that service members and their families frequently relocate between states. As such, this can make filing for divorce as a military member or military spouse more complicated.
To be eligible to file for divorce in Florida, you should be a resident of Florida or stationed in Florida. The State of Florida is often more lenient with military divorces. As such, you may not be required to have resided in Florida for at least six months, as is the case with standard divorces. If you are not a Florida resident or eligible to file in Florida, you may be able to file for divorce in the state that you have residency in or where you have lived previously. A military divorce lawyer will help you establish where it is best for you to file for your divorce.
Division of Military Retirement
In 1982, The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) was enacted by congress to allow some former spouses of servicemembers a level of financial protection. Under this act, military retirement pay or military pension is considered marital property and can be divided between spouses during the divorce process. The USFSPA governs how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided in a divorce.
To qualify for direct retirement benefit payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, a couple must have been married for at least ten years while the spouse was active in the military. If a couple was not married for ten years, although they won't qualify for direct benefit payments, a court may still decide they are eligible for some benefits. However, these benefits would be paid from the ex-spouse.
The USFSPA does not automatically entitle spouses to military retirement benefits. This arrangement still needs to be agreed upon and outlined in the final divorce decree.
Benefits For A Military Spouse In A Divorce
In addition to the division of military retirement benefits, some military spouses are entitled to further benefits following a divorce. These benefits can be divided into two main categories:
- Transitional healthcare - Spouses that were married for 20 years or more, overlapping with 15-19 years of military service, may be entitled to transitional healthcare coverage. This coverage is for a limited period until the spouse enrolls in another healthcare plan.
Lifetime healthcare - Lifetime healthcare is available to former military spouses that were married for at least 20 years that overlapped with 20 years of military service. This includes access to military pharmacies and hospitals and commissary and exchange privileges.
What to Do If My Military Spouse Is Deployed Overseas, and I Want A Divorce?
Military personnel is regularly deployed overseas. The United States has military bases worldwide and naval vessels patrolling the seas. It's not unusual for a military spouse to spend several consecutive months outside the country.
If you are a resident of Florida before your overseas deployment, the state courts will still have jurisdiction over your marriage and divorce. But in complex cases, the state can have jurisdiction over the validity of the marriage but not over the other spouse, which means that the court does not have the authority to award spousal support and properties to which he/she may be entitled. It can happen if you were a resident of Florida before deployment, but your spouse never actually lived there with you.
The same problem arises if there are children involved in the marriage. Jurisdiction for child custody and support can be complex. You do not want to do all that work to get custody only to hear that the Florida courts do not have jurisdiction to make a decision. To avoid confusion, consult a military divorce attorney from Miami Family Law Group, PLLC.
What to Do If I'm Served Divorce Papers While on Military Duty?
Military personnel can “stay” or stop the divorce proceedings when served with divorce papers. After being served with divorce papers, you have 20 days to respond. This can be difficult if you are actively serving in the military. Hence, you can use the stay option to avoid that deadline.
The main reason you want to use that option is that you do not want to be declared in default. The court may rule on the divorce without hearing your side if this happens. You can then fail to negotiate or go in front of a judge for a more desirable custody arrangement or support plan.
Do I Need A Lawyer For My Military Divorce?
If you are in the military and looking to file for divorce, it can be challenging to manage the necessary requirements and paperwork while balancing your career and potential deployments. A military divorce attorney can manage this burden for you and ensure that the requirements are met to progress with your divorce while you focus on your work. As a military serviceman or woman, additional laws are in place to protect your rights and ensure that decisions are not made without your input while you are on active deployment. Hiring an attorney can further protect your rights and ensure that these laws are adhered to at all times and that you have a voice during your divorce.
Military spouses looking to start the divorce process can also benefit from legal representation. Whether you are struggling to find the right location to file your divorce papers or are concerned your settlement won't include the benefits you are entitled to, an experienced military divorce attorney will fight your case and protect your best interests.
Miami Family Law Group, PLLC Can Help
Military divorce issues can range from dividing military retirement benefits and healthcare to how deployment can affect serving divorce papers and child custody arrangements. If you are a member of the armed forces, laws are in place to protect your rights, and if you are a military spouse, you need to understand how these laws may impact your divorce. As a military spouse, it is also important to understand the laws that may allow you additional benefits in the final settlement.
Representation from an experienced military divorce lawyer from Miami Family Law Group, PLLC will ensure that you are completely aware of the laws and regulations that affect your divorce and that they are used to your advantage where possible. Our military divorce lawyers are passionate about helping military families with their family law issues and we will fight tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for you in your divorce.
Our attorneys have been practicing law in Miami, including military divorce, for over 20 years. Allow us to apply our knowledge and expertise to your case to secure a successful settlement for you and your family. Call 305-520-7874 today to talk with a Miami military divorce lawyer and begin your divorce process.