No one ever plans on getting divorced, but sometimes it just becomes clear that you and your spouse are not going to patch things up, and you'll want to start looking into hiring a divorce lawyer. Things can be a bit more complicated if you are a civilian filing for divorce against an active service member. Military divorce has some additional rules and policies that might affect your filing and how quickly you can move forward with the proceedings. Here are some important tips to keep in mind.
It May Take You Time to Serve the Papers
Normally, you would be able to just contact your spouse in person and hand them the divorce papers. Even if your spouse is not co-operative, it's usually not difficult for a process server to track your spouse down and hand them the papers. Things can be much more complicated though if your spouse is a military member on active duty.
First, you need to make sure that the serving of the papers complies with all local laws and those of the military. For example, if your spouse is in the Navy and currently on board a ship, it's not going to be possible for a process server to board the ship. A military divorce lawyer may be able to contact someone within the military, however, in order to get the papers to your spouse.
Your Spouse Can Ask for Delays
Military members are protected by a law called the Service Members Civil Relief Act. Under this act, your spouse may be able to ask for a delay for the divorce proceedings because they are overseas or otherwise stationed somewhere that will prevent them from responding to the divorce filing in an appropriate fashion. Most courts, especially military courts, are likely to side with the service member and continue to grant delays for as long as needed in order to give your spouse a fair opportunity to mount their side of the case.
Having a Lawyer Experienced With the Military Is Important
For best results and to avoid any unnecessary delays, you should hire a divorce attorney with military expertise as soon as possible. The right lawyer will make sure you file your papers with a court that has jurisdiction over the service member and will take whatever steps are necessary to provide notice and get the papers served. You can expect a military divorce to generally take longer to complete than a divorce between two civilians, but a good lawyer will do whatever he or she can to streamline the process.
Contact a military divorce lawyer for assistance.