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Comparison: Civilian and military divorces

If you're stationed in Florida, you may be aware ending a military marriage is different than divorcing as a civilian. However, you may not know what those differences are. State laws apply in both cases, but military divorces also must follow federal rules.

The Office of the Judge Advocate General can answer some questions, but JAG officers are bound by limitations. Officers can advise only one spouse and may not represent a service member or non-service member spouse during a divorce in state courts. These services are provided by civilian attorneys, familiar with both state and military laws.

Military rules, specific to each segment of the service, require service members to support spouses and children during separation. Spouses may agree to the amount of financial support necessary or when there is a dispute, use the government's guidelines.

Some of the more complex aspects of a military divorce involve the division of property, particularly a service member's pension and military benefits for a non-service member spouse. Asset division is dependent upon the length of the marriage, the years of service contributed by the military spouse and rulings by state courts.

Medical benefits and privileges for non-military spouses may drop off immediately once the divorce decree is issued, although some spouses qualify for benefits even after the marriage is dissolved. The legal team at Kathy D. Sheive Attorney at Law can explain whether the military's unique 20/20/15 and 20/20/20 rules apply to your situation and the options you have if they don't.

These are a few but far from the only legal issues that distinguish a military divorce from a civilian divorce. You may have other concerns like protections from divorce during deployment or Florida residency requirements required before taking a legal action to end a marriage. Civilian attorneys with military divorce experience can advise you about support, child custody, asset division, residency and divorce guidelines.

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