Orlando Family Team is well-prepared to handle military divorces. Our husband and wife team of highly skilled attorneys has successfully helped many military couples redefine their families with as little turmoil as possible.
All marriages have rough spots, but military marriages are subject to special challenges. If you are in a military marriage and contemplating divorce, it is crucial that you work with a legal divorce team with experience in this specific area, particularly if there are children involved.
We understand the extraordinary stresses on military families who are faced with relocations, deployments, family separations, financial limitations, and the increased threat of harm to enlisted personnel. These facts not only result in increased pressure on married couples; they also make the process of divorce more complicated.
When you contact Orlando Family Team, you ensure that you will be working with capable Florida attorneys who keep current with federal and state laws governing military divorces. More than that, you will be respected and admired for your ability to juggle family responsibilities and military duty, whether or not you are the enlisted spouse.
Where Military Members Can File for Divorce
Under federal law, military divorces can be filed in one of three places:
- The state in which the military member is stationed (if she/he is stationed in the U.S.)
- The state in which the filing, nonmilitary spouse resides
- The state in which the military member is a legal resident
Florida state law, however, requires that if the Florida court is to have jurisdiction over a military divorce, one spouse must have resided in the state for at least 6 months prior to filing the divorce petition.
If the divorce is filed in Florida, state laws regarding alimony (spousal support), child custody, and child support will be applicable, though special military regulations may also apply. The terms controlling the distribution of a military pension in various circumstances can be particularly complex. It is precisely such complications that make it essential for you to have an experienced military divorce attorney to make certain you are treated fairly.
Special Protections for Military Spouses
Because federal law protects those who protect the nation, military members cannot be held in default in a divorce proceeding while on active duty. According to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), a divorce proceeding can be postponed during active duty and for up to 60 days thereafter. It should be noted, however, that the military spouse may waive this right.
Unlike civilian divorces, military divorces are ultimately governed by federal law, so whether you are a military member or a nonmilitary spouse, it is necessary to have a divorce attorney who can make sure your rights, and the rights of your children, are fully protected.
Child Custody in Military Divorce
Because the majority of military members are young individuals, often with young children, and because child custody matters are typically the most contentious element of any divorce, military child custody arrangements can be taxing. Complications to child custody arrangements in military divorces include:
- Frequent deployments, some at great distances
- Unemployed or underemployed nonmilitary spouses who are primary childcare providers
presently unable to independently support themselves and their children
- Difficulty setting up visitation for noncustodial military spouses, especially overnights
- The need to make alternate plans for the frequent changes inherent in military life
While the military member may be envious of his/her spouse’s extended time with their child, the non-military spouse may feel overburdened by childcare. It takes a strong, compassionate military divorce attorney to help sort things out in a way that works fairly for both parents and is truly in the best interests of the child or children.
Possible Scenarios for Child Custody in a Military Divorce
Depending on individual circumstances, if the parents have been awarded joint custody, the nonmilitary parent will typically be awarded temporary sole custody while the other parent is on active duty.
Exceptions may be made, however, if the nonmilitary parent  has been deemed an unfit parent (e.g.for reasons of addiction or a history of domestic violence or child abuse) or  is incapable of tending the child due to physical or mental incapacity. In such cases, another person, such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle may be given custody during the military member’s active duty.
Family Care Plans for Military Divorces
When it comes to thinking of the children of members of the military, the armed forces have been proactive. Although the various branches of the military have some variation when it comes to family care plans, all have statutes that require enlisted personnel to provide for the safety and comfort of their minor children.
These stipulations cover situations in which the military spouse is away on training or deployment and are certainly imperative when planning a divorce. A family care plan is a group of documents that includes detailed information about childcare, including:
- Who will provide short-term care for your child if necessary
- Who will provide long-term for your child if necessary
- What specific steps must be taken to provide your child with financial support, medical care, necessities of life (i.e. food, housing, clothing, transportation)
- Who will take over sole custody of the child in the event of the service member’s death
- Who will be an alternative if the designated caregiver becomes unavailable
- Contact information for designated caregivers
- Proof that you have given power of attorney to a caregiver or other responsible adult
The named providers must not be members of the military, must be adults, and must consent to accepting the responsibilities of caring for your child. In almost all cases, sole custody will be awarded to the other divorced parent if the military member dies except, as noted earlier, if the nonmilitary parent has been deemed an unfit parent, has died, or is unable to tend the child.
Orlando Family Team is ready to assist you in all aspects of developing your family care plan.
Contact Our Experienced Military Divorce Team Today
Don’t go through a military divorce without the strong legal representation Orlando Family Team can provide. We will help you through the process by clarifying your options and giving you our full legal and emotional support. Our goal is to make sure that you and your child come through ready to restart life in your secure, newly restructured family. Contact our skilled Orlando child custody attorney for a consultation.