An Experienced Military Divorce Law Firm Conveniently Located in Morehead City
When a couple chooses to divorce, this is often a painful and challenging process. For couples in which one or both parties are in the military, getting a divorce can be even more difficult as there are added logistical issues coupled with often being far from friends and family. That’s why having an experienced military divorce attorney in Morehead City who can ensure a smoother process and a help you achieve a more favorable outcome is important to moving forward.
Filing for a Military Divorce
To get an absolute divorce in North Carolina, you must meet two requirements. First, you and your spouse have to be living separately for 12 months and 1 day before filing divorce paperwork. The second requirement is that the person filing must have been a permanent resident of North Carolina for at least six months. It’s important to note that being stationed here is not necessarily enough to prove residency. To do so, you may need a driver’s license issued by the state, register to vote or register your car, or own property.
When you have a military divorce attorney representing you, they can determine you meet the requirements prior to filing. This will avoid any delays and make it quicker to get your divorced finalized.
Serving a Spouse on Active Duty
One thing that can delay a divorce being finalized is if one spouse is deployed. Typically, once paperwork is filed and your spouse has been served, they have 30 days to respond. However, the Soldiers’ Civil Relief Act may affect this timeline. The SCRA is a law that allows members of the military to delay court dates and civil issues to allow them to focus on their service in the military. If they are deployed in a dangerous location or overseas, they can request a stay of the proceedings which adds an extra 60 days onto their time to respond to the papers.
Property Distribution and Division of Military Benefits
While many couples will work with their attorneys outside of a courtroom to create a divorce settlement that includes how property is divided, if the settlement is determined by a judge, they must use equitable distribution to divide property. This means that all marital property must be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally as the judge will factor in both spouses incomes and earning potential, any health issues, length of marriage, and child custody.
One of the biggest ways military divorce is different from civilian divorce is that not only are property and possessions divided, so are military pensions and other benefits if they meet the guidelines laid out in the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. This states that if a couple is married for a minimum of ten years and the spouse has 10 creditable years of military service, the other spouse may be eligible to receive a portion of the direct pension. In the event that the marriage lasted longer than
North Carolina judges determine property separation through equitable distribution. This means that property and belongings are divided fairly, not necessarily 50/50 as they take into account both parties’ incomes and earning potential, health, and child custody. During military divorces, not only are property and possessions divided, military benefits and pensions may be a part of the divorce settlement.
Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, if two people are married for at least ten years and the spouse in the military served for 10 creditable years, the other party may receive a portion of direct pension during the divorce. If the marriage was at least 20 years and the spouse served 20 years, the other party may be eligible for a full pension, commissary privileges, and TRICARE medical benefits.
How Military Divorce Affects Child Custody
Determining child custody and child support are often two of the most contentions issues related to divorce. When one or both parents are in the military, custody can be even more challenging to arrange. While a judge will still make a ruling based on the best interest of the child, it’s also important to factor how custody will change if a parent is deployed. Having a military divorce attorney to push to include making up missed vacations, scheduling video calls, and travel to meeting a parent can lead to an agreement that’s beneficial to everyone.
Child support also has a key difference in a military divorce. The amount wouldn’t change as it’s based on who has custody or how custody is split and both parties’ incomes, along with other factors. However, if it goes unpaid, a parent can petition both the county court to push for wage garnishment as well as they can petition the spouse’s commanding officer. For those serving, failing to pay child support can lead to disciplinary action.
Choosing a Military Divorce Attorney
You may be considering relying on the free legal counsel you have access to as a member of the military or as a military spouse. While they can provide you with advice and guidance, these attorneys are not able to represent you in court nor sit down and mediate a settlement between two parties.
Instead, it’s important to have personalized representation from a military divorce attorney who is looking out for your best interests. This includes ensuring all paperwork is filed correctly, that you know your rights and what you’re entitled to, and helping you achieve a more favorable outcome in issues related to property distribution and child custody.
Schedule a Consultation with Our Military Divorce Attorneys in Morehead City, NC
If you need representation from an experienced military divorce lawyer, reach out Irons & Irons, P.A. We offer the compassionate counsel and focused representation you need. To schedule an initial consultation, call us at 252-585-5150 or contact us by using the form below.