What you need to know about military divorce in Maryland

Military divorce comes with its own nuances, including issues with service, jurisdiction and child custody.

Getting a divorce is never easy, but those either serving or married to an individual serving in the military can face unique obstacles. These can include:

  • Service. Before a divorce proceeding can move forward, the person receiving the divorce paperwork must be properly served. An article published by the American Bar Association, a group of legal professionals from throughout the country, discussed the issues that can arise when serving an active member of the military. The laws that govern service can be complex, since in some cases the laws for service in the country the individual is located in may apply. It is important to ensure service is completed properly. If not, the court could vacate a final judgment for lack of proper service.
  • Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction essentially refers to the court that has the right to hear the case. In a divorce, these issues are generally broken into four categories: property, pension, child custody and support (spousal and child). Each category has its nuances.
  • Child custody. If child custody is contentious and the court is required to make a ruling, the court will examine what is in the best interest of the child. This standard involves a review of various factors, including the wishes of the parents, the mental and physical health of all involved and, depending on the age of the child, the wishes of the child. This standard can be particularly difficult for those who are active in the military and must balance child rearing with deployments. These difficulties can be overcome. One example is putting together a detailed family plan that outlines both short and long-term care plans for the child in the event the parent is deployed.

Although child support determinations are handled differently in military divorces compared to civilian divorces, service members and civilians alike are both required to provide financial support to their children. However, child support cannot exceed 60 percent of a military member’s pay.

Applicable laws: State and federal

There are a variety of laws that govern the divorce proceedings of military families. For example, the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, along with the discretion of the Maryland court, allows divorce proceedings to be postponed while a service member is on duty for up to 60 days after the individual has returned from active duty. Also, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act governs how military retirement benefits are divided after a divorce.

These are just a few of the laws and issues that can arise in a military divorce. As a result, those going through dissolution of marriage in Maryland with one or both members in the military are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced military divorce attorney. This legal professional will guide you through the process, advocating for your rights and working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.

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