Different Rules Govern Military Divorce in Florida
The divorce rate among our nation’s military can often be higher than it is in the civilian population for a number of reasons. But for members of the armed forces, a divorce is different in a few ways.
Florida military divorces differ from civilian marriage break-ups in a few key ways as outlined below.
1. The Service Members Civil Relief Act protects service members so they can perform their duties in full without the concerns that arise during a divorce. Therefore, active military may delay a divorce until they return from being stationed overseas. Laws protect active military personnel from being held in default. A service member can delay the proceeding for the entire time he or she is on duty and for 60 days after that.
2. It is considered bad form to serve an active duty service member with divorce papers while he or she is overseas serving the country. A spouse of a service member must serve the other spouse with papers for the state court to have jurisdiction. If the service member is overseas, then the military can serve the papers there. If the service of papers is denied, then the spouse must serve the papers through the courts.
3. Child support in military divorce cases, just as in all divorce cases, is mandated. Military wages can be garnished if a service member fails to pay on time. The child support calculator takes into account each spouse’s wages in determining the amount payable by each parent. Child support cannot be more than 60 percent of the military member’s pay and benefits.
4. In some cases, the military court system may preside over the case – specifically with military professionals.
5. There are special rules that dictate how a court handles a service member’s retirement in the event of a divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act does not give a former spouse any of the service member’s retirement pension automatically. But retirement pay is considered marital property, so the court can divide it as the court deems equitable.
6. Under the USFSPA, a former spouse is also still an eligible Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiary. If a divorce happens after military retirement, a surviving former spouse can still be eligible for the SBP, if it was drawn up in the original divorce or if it was part of a court order.
7. To get a divorce in Florida, one of the parties needs to have established permanent residence in the Sunshine State for the six months prior to filing for divorce. A service member needs to have been in the state for the past six months or establish that Florida is their home with intent to return after discharge.