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Mistakes made during military divorces are common and costly: part II

In our last blog post we began discussing why individuals who are facing a military divorce would be wise to retain an attorney who is well-versed in the laws and rules that are specific to and govern military divorces. Specifically, we discussed matters that pertain to divorce filing requirements and military pensions. In this post, we'll continue to discuss issues that are unique to military divorces.

Regardless of the state of one's marriage, members of the U.S. military must be able to focus on and perform the important duties associated with their military service. In cases where a service member is in the midst of divorce or child custody proceedings, not only do these types of legal matters serve to distract an individual from service-related duties, but an individual may also be required to appear in court.

Service members who are considered active duty and who are in the midst of a divorce can request a stay of proceedings under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. However, simply invoking the SCRA does not guarantee that proceedings will be stayed. It's important, therefore, that a divorce attorney thoroughly understands and complies with all of the SCRA requirements.

In addition to a military pension, non-military spouses may also be entitled to what's known as a Survivor Benefit Plan. Under the terms of SBP coverage, an ex-spouse will continue to receive a sizable portion of a service member's pension even after the service member's death. Without an SBP, a non-military ex-spouse's pension benefit ends when an ex-spouse dies.

When it comes to divorce settlement matters, military divorces differ in many ways from civilian divorces. For individuals facing a military divorce, it's critical to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney who understands military pensions and has experience helping both military and non-military spouses successfully divorce.

Source: North Carolina Legal Assistance for Military Personnel, "Legal Assistance for Military Personnel," Feb. 27, 2015