Are you a military service member who is faced with the possibility of a divorce? Firstly, thank you for your service to our country. Secondly, you should know that your service in the military, either current or past, could complicate your divorce in ways not found in a traditional divorce.
Postponing Divorce While Deployed
The first thing you should know about a military divorce filed in Rhode Island is that it can sometimes be postponed until the military spouse returns from deployment or active duty. The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) is often honored in Rhode Island divorce courts. Under this act, divorce proceedings can be put on hold for as long as a military service member is on active duty. The postponement can also be extended for another 60 days after they return their life in Rhode Island.
Judges have discretion when applying SSCRA to a military divorce, though. Your deployment can postpone the divorce proceeding, but a judge can override it under certain circumstances.
Serving an Active Duty Spouse
Rhode Island also requires active-duty spouses to be served divorce papers personally. Emailing, texting, or calling you while you are on active duty to announce the divorce is not enough. A serving can be fulfilled by a military member serving with the active-duty spouse. For example, a superior officer may deliver divorce papers or summons sent to you through certified mail while you are on-base.
For convenience, a service member can acknowledge the service and initial pleadings through a variety of methods, though. For example, a service member who has been served divorce papers can choose to send an email to their spouse’s divorce attorney that acknowledges the pleadings were received and read. An active-duty spouse can even agree to the terms outlined in the pleading in their acknowledgement, permitting for the divorce proceeding to advance in their absence. This would allow for the remaining process — an uncontested military divorce — to begin sooner, as sending mail from a military base, especially one overseas, can face delays.
Dividing Military Benefits & Shared Property
Rhode Island family law courts also recognize the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), which decides how military benefits like retirement funds are divided during a military divorce. The USFSPA is used primarily to ensure the non-military spouse is able to collect a portion of the military spouse’s retirement benefits. However, there may be a 10-year minimum marriage length applied, meaning shorter marriages will not split military retirement benefits.
Solving Child Custody in a Military Divorce
As a deployed or active duty military service member, you will be put in a tough situation when deciding fair child custody in your military divorce. Your service to our country will understandably make it difficult for you to spend a significant amount of time with your child. That does not make you a lesser parent, though. You should expect an uphill battle in your divorce if your non-military spouse argues that they should get full parenting time due to your service.
Divorce Representation from a Military Veteran
At Moyer Law, PC in Rhode Island, we are led by Don P. Moyer, Esq., who is a military veteran himself. He served the US Army, Infantry in various duties, including spending time deployed in Bosnia, Croatia, and Hungary. Today, he proudly represents the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who are going through a divorce in Rhode Island. The combination of his military background and legal insight makes Attorney Don Moyer the top choice for your military divorce.
Call our firm at (401) 305-2934 to schedule a consultation, during which you can find out more about your rights as a military service member going through a divorce.