Preparing for a Military Divorce

Although military divorces are no more complex compared to civilian cases, there are special rules and requirements which apply U.S. service members and their spouses when they file for divorce. These differences typically have an impact on matters of residency or filing requirements, service of process, compliance, and division of military pensions.

For example, there are laws established to protect active duty service members against being held in “default” from failing to respond to a divorce action in a timely manner. According to the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, 50 UCS section 521 and in the discretion of the local Oklahoma court, the divorce proceedings may be postponed for the entire duration the active member is on duty and for up to a maximum of 60 days thereafter. These laws were enacted to protect active military personnel from being divorced without ever knowing it.

Requirements for a Military Divorce in Oklahoma

As far as residency and filing requirements are concerned, you or your spouse must reside or must be stationed, in Oklahoma. The grounds for a military divorce in the state are the same as a civilian divorce. All divorce issues are governed by state laws.

In addition to Oklahoma property division laws, the federal government has established the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) that governs how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided in the event of a divorce. The USFSPA is responsible for administering direct payment of a portion of a military retiree's pay to the former spouse.

Keep in mind, if the spouse has not been married to the service member for 10 years or longer while the member has been active duty military, then federal laws will not divide and distribute any of the military member’s retirement.

Furthermore, spouses of former military members are also eligible for full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges when (1) the couple was married for 20 years or more, (2) the service member has performed at least 20 years of creditable service toward retirement pay, (3) there was at least a 20-year overlap of marriage and military service.

In regard to child support and alimony, both of these awards may not exceed 60% of a military member’s pay and allowances. The normal state child support guidelines will determine the proper amount of child support to be paid.

Serving an Active Military Spouse

In order for an Oklahoma court to have jurisdiction over the active military member, he or she needs to be personally served with a summons and a copy of the divorce action. In the event of an uncontested divorce, the active duty spouse may not have to be served as long as he or she signs and files a waiver affidavit which acknowledges the divorce action.

Since military divorce requires special knowledge of laws that do not apply to civilian divorce, it is critical to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who handles such cases. With more than five decades of collective experience, our legal team at the Law Offices of Keith J. Nedwick, P.C. extensively researches and prepares each case, to develop a unique strategy for our clients’ particular situation.

For more information, contact us and request a free consultation today.