Protections Available To Active Military Personnel During A Divorce
Divorce can be a confusing and complicated matter for couples. Military couples face the same issue. Usually, a military divorce is looked upon as a civilian matter and is handled a civilian court. If you are in the military and are heading for a divorce, then you will follow mostly the same procedures as a civilian. However, there are certain Acts and unique laws applicable only for military divorces.
One of the benefits in a military divorce is that you won’t be charged for the legal assistance services. Both service members and their spouse can enjoy the services free of cost through the legal assistant office. The office also does not charge for the notary services it provides.
California military divorce laws
There are two important Acts that you should be aware of if you are into the services and heading for a divorce.
- Service members Civil Relief Act
The Service members Civil Relief Act, states that the divorce proceeding may be postponed for the entire time the active service member is on duty and for up to 60 days thereafter. Under 50 UCS section 521 and in the discretion of the local California court, active service members have the right to abstain from a divorce during a duty. But this right can only be exercised when a judge belonging to the military finds a good cause.
The Act also provides protection to service members from failure to show up at a trial on the given date and time.
- Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA)
If your partner is working in military services, then you are unlikely to get any of the retired pay as per the USFSPA rules and regulations. Instead, the act allows a state to give military disposable retired pay as marital property and divide it in case of a divorce.
The USFSPA allows a former spouse to be designated as a beneficiary for the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). The SBP allows retired service members to provide continued income to a named recipient in case of the retiree’s death.
If you are a former spouse, in certain cases, the USFSPA will allow you to continue receiving health care and other benefits. But to be eligible for such benefits you must qualify for the 20/20/20 rule. It means your partner must have provided at least 20 years of good service, the marriage lasted for 20 years and the marriage period overlapped the service period by 20 years.
Getting divorced in California can be complicated. Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.
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