Filing for Military Divorce in Florida? Here’s What You Need to Know

Military Father and ChildGoing through a military divorce comes with a number of laws and issues that don’t necessarily apply to a civilian divorce. If you are a military family facing divorce, it is important to be aware of the specific issues that you face. Speak with the experienced divorce attorneys at Parker & DuFresne if you’re seeking legal representation in a military divorce.

Where Can I File for Military Divorce?

Service men and women and their families often move frequently. In some cases, they may be stationed in a state that is different from where they maintain a permanent residence. This can make it hard to know where to file for divorce if you’re a military family.

To file for military divorce in Florida, you must either be a resident of Florida or be stationed in Florida. While typically you must reside in Florida for at least six months to file for divorce, more leniency is given to active members of the military. You may have other options as to where you file as well. These include filing in the state where you have permanent residence or where you and your spouse last resided together. Speak with your Jacksonville divorce attorney about filing in the state of Florida and what is most beneficial in your situation.

Determining Child Custody in a Military Divorce

Custody is one of the most critical issues to consider in any divorce. Making matters even more complex are some unique factors that apply to military families, such as deployment, leave and relocation. The court will always look at all of the factors to decide what’s best for any children involved.

When it comes to deployment, the court will look to see if the military member is frequently deployed. The court will generally find it’s in the child’s best interest to reside with the parent who is not deployed. This is because it typically provides more stability in the child’s life.

In a military divorce, the service member’s parental rights will be protected while deployed. Florida law mandates that custody arrangements may not be changed in any way during a deployment. The only exception is if it’s a change that impacts the child’s well-being or best interests. This exception must be proven to the court in order to go into effect.

Dividing Military Retirement

Another issue unique to military divorce is that of dividing military retirement benefits. This is one of the reasons it’s imperative to have a skilled divorce attorney handling your case. The way in which military retirement benefits are calculated and divided is governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, or USFSPA.

Under this federal law, you must be married to a service member for at least 10 years while he or she was active military to receive direct benefits from the DFAS. If this timeframe is not met, the court may decide a spouse may still be eligible for some benefits, which will be paid by the ex-spouse directly rather than by the government.

Only Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney

With all of the unique factors to take into consideration with a military divorce, it is important to have an experienced attorney to guide you through your case. If you’re a military family facing a divorce in Florida, contact the skilled attorneys at Parker & DuFresne to schedule a consultation today at (904) 733-7766.

Sources:
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0061/0061PARTIContentsIndex.html
https://www.dfas.mil/garnishment/usfspa/legal.html