Servicemembers and their spouses often face unique challenges that civilian couples do not. Unfortunately, in some cases, these challenges lead to divorce. Military divorces in Georgia can be more complex than civilian divorces, as they are subject to federal laws, including the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), as well as Georgia state laws.
If you are preparing to get a military divorce, you should note the following key differences between military divorce and civilian divorce.
Twelve months of residency is required, if on military base
At least one spouse must be a resident of Georgia for at least six months before filing for a military or civilian divorce. However, if either spouse lives on a military base, 12 months of residency is required.
Military spouses can request to delay proceedings
In a civilian divorce, the spouse filing for divorce must serve the papers to the other spouse, and the other spouse will have 30 days to respond. However, in a military divorce, if a servicemember is out of the country or on active duty, they may request the proceedings to be postponed under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) for up to 90 days, or longer, if necessary.
They may also request postponement of child and spousal support proceedings and child support payments. While the court may issue a temporary custody order, if there is a delay in place, the final order will not be given until the servicemembers service has been over for at least 90 days.
Non-military spouse may be entitled to retirement benefits
Under the USFSPA, the military spouse may receive a portion of their spouse’s property, including health benefits and pensions. A non-military spouse can qualify for a portion of these benefits if the marriage lasted at least 20 years, the servicemember was on active duty, and there were 20 years of overlap of the service and the marriage.
Couples going through a military divorce should consider consulting with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the entire process and make sure that you meet all federal and state requirements along the way.