Filing a Military Divorce in Maryland
Military spouses face special considerations and unique obstacles when choosing to file for a divorce. There are federal laws that apply only to active duty military divorces, service of divorce documents, division of government benefits, and much more.
While the following provides an overview of military divorce and its eccentricities, any military member or spouse contemplating divorce in Maryland should seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney before taking any legal action.
Choosing the Appropriate State to File for a Military Divorce
A military divorce can typically be filed in any of the following:
- The state where the military member is stationed;
- The state where the military spouse resides; or
- The state where the military member maintains legal residency.
The state’s laws in which a divorce is filed will determine any property division, child custody and visitation, and alimony orders.
Special Legal Requirements for Filing a Military Divorce
Regardless of what state a military divorce is filed in, a copy of the divorce petition and a summons must be hand-delivered to the military member if they are the non-filing or respondent spouse. Military members may waive this requirement if they choose not to contest the divorce.
Delayed Divorce Proceedings for Active Duty Military Members
Federal law prohibits active duty military members from being sued. This includes any divorce proceedings.
Per the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, any active duty military member has ninety days after the termination of active duty military service to respond to a divorce petition. However, a servicemember has the right to waive this delay.
Property Division in a Military Divorce
Should a military spouse choose to divorce in Maryland, marital property division is per the law of equitable distribution. This means that marital property is divided according to the principles of fairness and equity, not necessarily equally.
Spouses may decide to come to their own property division agreement or have the court divide any marital property on their behalves. The exceptions would be any separate or non-marital property and benefits protected under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act or USFSPA.
The USFSPA and Division of Military Retirement Benefits
Under the USFSPA, a military spouse is eligible for a portion of a military member’s pension when:
- The servicemember has at least ten credible military service years; and
- The marriage lasted for at least ten credible military service years.
This is not an entitlement but must be awarded to the military spouse in the final divorce decree.
Other Potential Military Benefits
Military spouses are also eligible to maintain full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges when their military marriage lasts at least twenty years, including twenty years of credible military service by the military member towards retirement pay.
Other State Awards and Obligations
While the state court includes final orders regarding any alimony and child support in the divorce decree, the military may act on collecting and enforcing these obligations.
Speak with an Experienced Maryland Military Divorce Attorney Today
It is imperative you know your state and federal legal rights before filing a military divorce. Reach out to Shah & Kishore’s experienced military divorce attorney today to schedule an informative, complimentary consultation.
Attorney Kishore can answer your most vexing questions and help to set your mind at ease. Whether your concerns are child custody, property division, alimony, or retirement assets, he can help you plan for your future.