San Fernando Valley Military Divorce Lawyers
Army – Navy – Coast Guard – Air Force – Marines
Dealing with a divorce is never an easy situation. From child custody battles to the struggles of coming up with a fair and workable solution to alimony, it can be emotionally complex and legally trying. At Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law, we understand just how daunting this can be. We also know these complications can be compounded when experienced by a military member. When divorces contain the added complexities of deployment and families moving from military base to military base, it can create elevated stress and confusion that exceeds the limits of normal circumstances.
How Is Military Divorce Different than Civilian Divorce?
There are a few factors that may affect active military personnel and their spouses in the event of a divorce. If a spouse is stationed permanently overseas or on deployment to an out of country area, divorce proceedings may take longer than a civilian divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) declares federal statutes regarding child support, child custody, spousal support, and payment and pension acts for retired personnel. In some states, military spouses will see some retirement pay added into their spousal support, as most states recognize this as property.
On of our lead attorneys, Nelson Cutter, has more than 30 years of experience in the United States Army as a JAG Corps Legal Assistant at Fort Hood in Texas. He knows military law intimately. In addition, Attorney Matthew Lax is board certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization in family law. If you have questions about your unique situation or if you would like to discuss them in detail, it is encouraged that you contact our military family law firm as soon as possible.
Below we explain two of the ways military divorces are different:
- Jurisdiction - Where do I file?
For civilian families, this is generally a simple answer - you file where you live. For military families, however, this can be much more complex. In most cases, the divorce may be filed in the state where the military member is stationed, even if they are not a legal resident. This, however, is not the only option. They may also file where the military member holds legal residency or where the spouse resides. All are viable options. The USFSPA states that the military member's state of residence is always permitted to divide the pension. Therefore, if you file in another state, they may not have the authority to do so - although the military member may consent to the court doing so if they choose.
- Time - Can military divorce be slowed down?
If a military member is serving overseas, he or she may be served the divorce papers by military authorities. If this is refused, the court may serve them - however, since few courts are willing to send someone overseas to accomplish this, it may cause significant delay in the divorce process. It is also important to note that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) gives an extension to deadlines for military members who are on active duty. These military members may request a stay which would last for 90 days, and then may be extended in 30 day intervals as granted by the court.
Receiving Military Benefits
After a divorce from a military spouse, you are not automatically guaranteed to receive all military benefits. There are some regulations and rules that you must first meet in order to receive military benefits. If your ex-spouse has served in the military for at least 10 years and the service overlaps with at least 10 years of marriage, you will be eligible to receive benefits. Depending on the state in which you file for divorce, the amount of time married may be judged slightly differently. The maximum amount of compensation an ex-spouse can receive is no more than 50% of the retirement pay.
Work with a Board Certified Family Law Specialist
With experience as a JAG officer, our legal staff is able to blend our unique legal and military experiences to best help our clients. In addition to military divorce, we offer representation to service members and their spouses facing the following legal issues:
- Child Custody: Military families are often subjected difficult custody issues with active duty military members. While military members can provide their kids with numerous benefits, such as excellent schools offered on base, spouses will often argue about time spent on deployment. Regardless of which side you're on, we can help.
- Child Support: Are you asking to receive child support? Are you being asked to pay? No matter the case, you can receive the help that you need from the team of legal professionals at Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law. We know the laws and can help ensure that your case is comprehensive - as well as ensure all necessary steps are completed.
- Spousal Support: Issues regarding alimony can be complex if you are dealing with a military divorce. For example, spousal support often falls under specifications that are unique to each branch of the military. At our firm, we can explain what the requirements are for your branch and they will affect your case.
- Modifications: For military members, it is not unlikely that your life can and will significantly change following the court orders of a divorce. Therefore, it is crucial you work with an experienced attorney who can help change your court orders. We can help with child support, custody, relocation, and more.
- Move Away Cases: No matter whether you are moving to be closer to family, received a job offer in another state, have been deployed, or received a duty station change, moving away is a natural part of life. Our firm can help ensure that your rights are protected during relocation and will fight to preserve your relationship with your family.
Our firm recognizes these delicate situations and understands the questions you may be asking yourself. You may have questions about jurisdiction, about how moving away can affect your future relationship with your children and other situations specific to military men and women. We are uniquely qualified to help answer them. Our legal team proudly serves members of the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps.
Work with Cutter & Lax Attorneys at Law
Military members and their families are unique. Their careers are highly specific, often requiring them to move from place to place – often internationally. In many cases, families may be separated for months or even years at a time. Our firm understands the pride service members take in their careers and their service to the country. We also understand that their divorces can be complicated. With an in-depth understanding of military law, we are uniquely prepared to provide service members the aggressive and experienced representation they truly need during this troubling time.
Beyond the initial divorce filing, we also have the level of experience necessary to handle the related legal issues. We know that military members face the same complications as civilian divorces; we can help address issues that may arise about custody, child support, and alimony. We can even help if you are looking to modify a previous divorce or if you have to move away and aren't sure how that will affect your previous arrangements. No matter the circumstances that life throws at you, you can be confident in knowing our firm has the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to help you navigate through it.
Contact our firm today to schedule your initial case consultation. We can also be reached by calling (818) 839-2533.