How Military Divorce in Florida Differs from Civilian Divorce

contested vs uncontested divorce
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Florida
October 27, 2017

How Military Divorce in Florida Differs from Civilian Divorce

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If you or your spouse are a member of the military and you are seeking a divorce in Florida, the need for a divorce lawyer who specializes in military divorces cannot be overstated. While civilian divorces in Florida can be complicated, military divorces can be governed by complex state, federal, and international laws that require a special knowledge of military life and pertinent legislation.

Although military divorces differ significantly from civilian divorces in many ways, here are some of the key differences:

Basic Requirements: Jurisdiction, Service of Process, and Timing of Filing

  • First, determining which state has jurisdiction over your divorce can be complex. If you or your spouse is a Florida resident or stationed within the state, Florida will have jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings. However, depending upon the unique circumstances of your case, Florida may not have jurisdiction over matters relating to your children (such as custody and child support) or your finances (such as property division and alimony).
  • Second, traditional divorce proceedings require that the filing spouse personally serve the other party with a summons and a copy of the divorce petition. Complexities may arise, however, when either spouse is stationed on a military base or is on active duty elsewhere. Special rules, as well as federal and international laws, govern what constitutes service of process in these circumstances and protects servicemembers from receiving a default judgment against them.
  • Third, because of a special federal protection known as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), servicemembers have the right to postpone civil proceedings such as divorce and child support hearings when such actions interfere with deployment or military duties.

Determining and Dividing Income, Assets, and Benefits

There are also significant differences when it comes to determining and dividing a servicemember’s income, assets, and benefits. For example, because some portions of a servicemember’s earnings are taxable income while others are non-taxable allowances, there can be considerable disagreement as to what the spouse’s “income” is for purposes of child support and alimony. Further, the military has its own guidelines for determining family support. Additionally, legislation such as the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) has specific guidelines on dividing military pensions while special rules apply to health care and survivor benefits.

Specialized Representation for Military Divorces in Florida

At Makofka & Makofka, we understand the complexity of military divorces and have the unique knowledge it takes to ensure that our clients’ rights, assets, and benefits are protected. If you or a loved one is a servicemember seeking a divorce in Florida, contact the experienced military divorce professionals at Makofka & Makofka today for your free consultation.

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