Military families face many unique challenges. In some cases, the pressures of the lifestyle can lead couples to reconsider the viability of their marriage. In other cases, the military lifestyle has nothing to do with the divorce, but a couple simply has irreconcilable differences. Regardless, going through a divorce is always tough: it is a confusing, sensitive process that can be filled with very intense and raw emotions.
Additionally, military divorces have some unique legal characteristics. While a military divorce proceeds in largely the same way as does a civilian divorce, there are some specialized issues that must be considered and addressed during the split. At the Bombardo Law Office, P.C., our Syracuse divorce attorneys have the skills and experience needed to help military families through divorce. If you or your spouse is an active duty military member, and you are considering getting a divorce in Central New York, please do not hesitate to contact our team today for immediate assistance.
How Federal Law Can Affect a Military Divorce
One of the key things that distinguishes a military divorce from a civilian divorce is that military members have an extra layer of legal protection. Specifically, under a federal law known as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), military members generally cannot be sued for divorce while they are on active duty deployment.
The purpose of the law is relatively straightforward: The United States government does not want military service members to face distractions while they are away from home and unable to directly respond to any type of family law proceeding. To be clear, SCRA does not allow a person to stop a divorce, or any other type of family law action. The law simply allows active duty members some additional time to make arrangements to respond to certain proceedings.
Military Families are Often On the Move: Do You Know Where to File?
According to federal data, military families move an average of once every three years. This is far more than the average family. In many cases, military service requires a family to relocate to another state entirely, perhaps on the other side of the country. This can make knowing how and where to file for a divorce challenging. For a couple to get divorce in New York, their marriage must meet the state’s residency requirements. As a general rule, this means that you and your spouse must meet one of the following three criteria:
- Both spouses must be legal New York state residents;
- Their marriage must have happened in New York, and they must have lived here for at least one year; or
- Either partner must have lived in New York state for the past two years.
Not all military families are able to meet these requirements. Fortunately, the state of New York relaxes its standard residency rules for military families. In fact, if you or your spouse is currently a service member who is stationed at a facility in New York, then you should be able to file within a state court.
Military Divorce: How are Benefits Divided
In New York, a couple’s marital assets are split up in accordance with the state’s equitable distribution rules. In simplified terms, this means that property is divided in a manner that is deemed to be fair to both sides. Military families are also subject to equitable distribution. The only factor that makes military cases slightly more complicated is that there are federal regulations governing how military benefits are to be divided. Most importantly, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) can have a significant impact on these types of cases. Under the USFSPA, a military spouse may be entitled to have a portion of their former partner's military pension benefits sent straight to them instead of routing those benefits through their former partner. Though, a marriage must have lasted for at least one decade for a military spouse to qualify for protection under the USFSPA.
Contact an Experienced Central New York Divorce Lawyer Today
At the Bombardo Law Office, P.C., our divorce team has extensive experience handling all aspects of the military divorce cases. We fully understand the unique challenges that military families in our region face. To learn more about what we can do for you, please call our office today at (315) 488 5544 or reach out to us directly online. We are located in Syracuse and serve clients throughout the region, including in Onondaga County, Cayuga County, Oneida County, Madison County and Oswego County.