A military divorce can be a little different than a civilian divorce, as it might require special attention to some of the unique circumstances of our service members and their spouses. The military offers many benefits for couples considering divorce that the parties should be aware of, as well as benefits which may belong exclusively to the service member and will no longer be available to a spouse once the divorce is final. There may also be military regulations that apply, outside of state divorce law, such as the ability to divorce in the United States, even when stationed and living with your spouse overseas. This blog explores military divorce in Indiana and its unique aspects and considerations.
The first consideration for a party divorcing a service member is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA. This act provides certain protections for service members who are unable to appear in court due to deployment or being stationed out of state or out of the country. In civil matters, such as divorce, the act requires the court to grant a 90 day delay or stay of the proceedings and allows it to grant an additional 90 days at its discretion (Military One Source). In Indiana, a parent who is a party to a custody proceeding and has received temporary duty, deployment, or mobilization orders may request that the court allow them to present testimony and evidence by: “(1) telephone; (2) video teleconference; (3) Internet; or (4) other electronic means approved by the court” if the military orders prevent them from attending any regularly scheduled hearing in person (I.C. 31-17-2-21.2). This hearing will be expedited if the military spouse requests it (I.C. 31-14-13-6.2). To further protect service members rights, Indiana code provides that a members active duty absence or relocation shall not be considered as a factor when determining the child’s best interests in an initial custody determination or in a permanent custody modification (I.C. 31-17-2-21.3). In addition, if the court temporarily modifies a custody order due to a service members active duty, the temporary order expires 10 days after the member notifies the temporary custodian that the have returned from active duty (I.C. 31-14-13-6.3).
Likewise, parents who are members of the armed forces are provided protection against missed parenting time due to their participation in certain military activities as long as the custodial parent is notified at least seven days before the missed parenting time, unless a national emergency prevents notification (I.C. 10-16-7-22). Besides the protections offered to service members under Indiana law, military benefits may also be an important consideration in divorce. Family housing is typically lost within 30 days of the service member moving out, however moving expenses of the non-military spouse may be paid if the spouse is returning home from an overseas duty station. Otherwise, just as in civilian divorces, the parties are free to work out payment of moving expenses in a settlement agreement (Military One Source). Retirement benefits, healthcare, commissary and exchange, and retention of your military ID card can be important concerns during a divorce, as well.
Federal law does not just protect service members, it also affords some rights to former spouses under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. The Act allows state courts to award a portion of the service members retirement pay to a former spouse, authorizes former spouses to receive the pay directly from the government if they were married to the service member for at least 10 years, during which time the member performed 10 years of creditable service (US Army). It also grants some former spouses access to health care at military treatment facilities, allows certain former spouses to retain military exchange and commissary benefits, and provides services to qualified victims of spousal or child abuse (US Army Office of the Staff Judge Advocate). Victims of domestic abuse may be entitled to transitional compensation, a monthly payment to help them get back on their feet after leaving the marriage (Military One Source). Additionally, advocates are available for victims who simply need to talk, those who wish to report the abuse, and spouses who want to stay in the marriage and attempt to make it work (Military One Source).
Military spouses with an installation legal assistance officer nearby, can get free advice on divorce and child custody, as well as free notary services, and mediation for couples who wish to try to make the marriage work. If an installation legal assistance office is not located near you, you, you may still be able to obtain advice and divorce assistance by calling One Source at 1-800-342-9647 (Military One Source).
As you can see, military divorce in Indiana creates unique aspects and considerations civilian divorces do not. If you are a service member or the spouse of one and considering divorce, the experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. will fight for you and help protect your rights. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.