Military Divorce in Alabama
Just as being a member of the Armed Services affects other aspects of a military family’s life, divorce is different for those who are actively serving in the military or are retired from the military. Federal law and military regulations protect a service member who is going through divorce.
It is essential that you work with a knowledgeable Huntsville military divorce attorney who has extensive experience in this area of law. At New Beginnings Family Law, our legal team has more than a decade of experience successfully helping service members through the complicated divorce process. Members of our team have coped with difficult family law matters themselves, so we understand the emotions and uncertainty you face. As your military divorce lawyers, we will:
- Provide a fair and unbiased analysis of your status based on Alabama and military divorce laws
- Ensure you understand and meet your legal obligations and/or exercise your rights
- Negotiate for a divorce agreement that protects you financially
- Fight aggressively for the best interests of your children
Contact us today to schedule a consultation about how your military standing affects your divorce by calling (256) 518-9529 or filling out our online form.
Military Divorce Attorney: Alabama Law
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) indicates that military divorce proceedings will be controlled by state law where the divorce petition is filed. However, the same law also describes how military retirement pay can be divided and what service benefits a former military spouse may retain entitlement to. The USFSPA also enforces child support and current alimony payments awarded in a divorce.
Regardless of your military service status, a divorce in Alabama follows state law with a few exceptions. Alabama requires one spouse to live in the state for at least six months in order to initiate divorce cases here. The spouse seeking divorce may include in his or her petition a request for child and spousal support, property and debt distribution, child custody and visitation, and additional requests.
After filing the petition, the plaintiff must attempt to notify the spouse of the divorce action. If a spouse’s location is known, the petitioning spouse will fill out a summons and file it with the court. If and when the other spouse responds, the divorce proceeds, with each side working toward a marital settlement agreement, whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.
In most cases, one spouse will hire an Alabama divorce attorney to draft the documents necessary to file the divorce. The other spouse should also hire an attorney to represent him or her in order to make sure the final divorce agreement is fair. Contact our experienced Huntsville military divorce lawyers today to learn about your legal options.
Protection for Military Service Members in Divorce
Although military divorce generally follows the guidelines of the state of residence claimed by one or both spouses, two federal regulations trump state law and provide protection to service members:
- Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act. Active-duty military personnel may seek to have any civil action against him or her delayed, including divorce proceedings. This requires filing a request with the court that shows that military service materially affects the member’s ability to appear in court or respond to a divorce complaint. Typically, the law is invoked by a service member posted overseas or elsewhere away from home. The request usually includes a confirming statement from the commanding officer.
A service member may obtain an initial delay (or “stay”) for 90 days, which may be extended. The intent is to allow the service member to make arrangements to respond. A judge will not delay proceedings indefinitely, and the court may issue a default divorce if the service member ultimately fails to respond.
- Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA). This federal law protects military retirement benefits from being used toward child support and spousal maintenance, and from being considered in division of property in some cases. The USFSPA requires the divorcing couple to have been married for at least 10 years that overlapped with the service member’s active duty before the spouse may claim a portion of military retirement pay in a divorce settlement. In cases where disability pay makes up a portion of military retirement pay, the waived portion of retirement pay is not considered as part of this division. (Alabama law also requires a 10-year marriage before retirement accounts or military pensions earned during the marriage by either spouse can be divided as property in a divorce.)
Although the laws above provide protection to a service member or retiree in a divorce, they are complex. Meanwhile, each divorce presents its own unique set of facts and circumstances. How the law is applied to your divorce agreement may depend on how it is presented to the judge presiding over the case.
At New Beginnings Family Law, our dedicated Huntsville military divorce lawyers understand how both state law and federal law affect our clients. We fight for divorce settlement agreements that are fair to you. Contact us today to get started.
Military Divorce: Spousal Support and Child Care
The military takes a hard stand on service members’ duty to pay child support and/or spousal maintenance (alimony) as provided in a divorce decree. Military service members should know that:
- A commander may enforce service-specific guidelines for support to a spouse or child(ren) in lieu of a court order.
- A dependent who believes a military member is not living up to his or her obligations may take the complaint to the commanding officer. Regardless of the commander’s actions, having the issue raised is not good for the soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, etc.
- In Alabama, if an active service member continually fails to meet payment obligations, the former spouse may sue for a support judgement, which garnishes the service member’s wages.
- For the ex-spouse of a retired service member, the USFSPA provides a method of attaching retirement pay as a means of enforcing current and/or previously owed (arrears) child support and current alimony awarded in the divorce settlement.
A divorce results in a legally binding agreement. You have personal rights and financial assets in a marriage, both of which should be protected as the terms of your divorce are negotiated and solidified. You also have obligations to yourself, your spouse, and to your children.
Contact Our Military Divorce Attorney for Help Today
A poorly drawn divorce agreement could unfairly cost you your home, a substantial portion of your income, and other assets and possessions. You could also lose the ability to see your children as you want. Let the experienced Alabama military divorce attorneys at New Beginnings Family Law provide thoughtful legal advice and supportive counsel as you make this life-altering transition.