Tips and information on military divorces in Florida

Dec 6, 2021 | Family Law, Practice Areas

When it comes to divorce, service personnel and non-military spouses have a unique set of problems that civilians do not experience. Divorce is a difficult process, and it is made more difficult in the military. When seeking to represent a service member or a non-military spouse, even experienced family and matrimonial lawyers may find themselves at a disadvantage.

Military divorce lawyers at the Law Office of John Vernon Moore P.A. will assist you to avoid the difficulties that military families confront in their legal matters. The split of property, where to do divorce filing, military pension and disability pay, child custody, and child support are all potential hazards. The Law Office of John Vernon Moore P.A. has a team of attorneys that can assist service members and their non-military spouses in Florida. We can assist your attorney on the subtleties of military divorce, child support, and retirement or veterans’ compensation difficulties if you are based elsewhere.

Florida Military Divorce Jurisdiction

The issue of jurisdiction is of utmost importance in a Florida Military Divorce — that is, the ability to make decisions directly against the non-filing party.

Military divorces are subject to the same jurisdictional requirements as civilian divorces for the Florida courts to have jurisdiction over your marriage and the ability to dissolve it; particularly, one party must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months previous to the filing date. No problem if you or your spouse are physically present in Florida for 6 months previous to filing — Florida has jurisdiction over the topic – your marriage – and the authority to make a final judgment of dissolution. What if a service member’s “home state” is Florida but he or she is stationed in another state or country? If you are temporarily deployed in another state and fulfill the jurisdictional criteria for that state, you can file in that state or Florida, presuming you were a 6 month Florida resident previous to being deployed and intend to return to Florida when the deployment is over.

Outside the country

Florida would have jurisdiction over the marriage but not over the spouse, which means the court would not have the legal right to split assets or grant spousal support (should the military member filing in Florida be seeking alimony). When there are children from the marriage, the same issue arises. Child custody jurisdiction in the context of a military divorce may be tricky, which is why hiring a Florida child custody lawyer is crucial. You don’t want to go to a final hearing just to find out that the Florida court has inherent jurisdiction over your marriage or another matter that needs to be resolved. Finally, whether you were married in the military or not, the location of your marriage makes no difference and is not an issue while pursuing a Florida divorce. Our military clients typically file in Florida since it is the most convenient location for them to be divorced, regardless of where they are stationed temporarily.

Protection from Divorce Proceedings in Florida 

You may be entitled to a “stay” of the proceedings (i.e., a temporary suspension of the proceedings) if you are a member of the military and have been duly served with divorce papers. In my experience, I’ve never had to submit a request for a stay in a military divorce case because I’ve never needed to. Military personnel, like the rest of us, simply want their matter settled as swiftly and inexpensively as feasible.

There is, however, assistance available if you are a military member who has been served papers and want to prevent being “defaulted” because you do not answer within the permitted 20 days from service. The divorce case may be postponed for the entire time the active military member is on duty and for up to 60 days afterward, according to federal statutes established under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and at the discretion of the local Florida court. This clause, like most others, can be waived if the military member, like most others in a similar circumstance, just wishes to settle the concerns so that a definitive judgment of dissolution can be recorded.

Pensions and Benefits for Military Personnel

The right of a civilian spouse to a share of a military pension in a divorce settlement in Florida is not based on the length of the marriage. The length of the marriage, however, may have an impact on how the pension is provided to the non-military spouse. The non-military former spouse may get his or her share straight from the government rather than from the former spouse, depending on the length of the marriage and other factors.

The benefit plan is an annuity that allows retired military personnel to give a specified beneficiary with ongoing income in the event of their death. When a military person retires, the beneficiary is automatically listed as their spouse. To modify the specified beneficiary, the service member must contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

In some divorce situations, the service member must continue to offer SBP coverage to the nonmilitary ex-spouse as part of the final decision. However, a court-ordered settlement is insufficient to assure that the non-military ex-spouse is covered. Within the timeframe indicated, the recipient must submit a “deemed election” request. The nonmilitary spouse’s access to the SBP might be forfeited if the tight rules are not followed.

Contact our Military Divorce Attorney

The Law Office of John Vernon Moore P.A. has assisted hundreds of clients, including military people and military spouses, navigate the Florida divorce process over the years. You may rest better knowing that you have a team of legal champions on your side when you engage with our Florida military divorce attorneys.

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