Military Divorce

 When one or both spouses are in the military there are several additional factors that must be taken into account in a divorce proceeding. For example it is much more common in a military divorce that one or both parties may be deployed elsewhere in the country or possibly overseas. Such a situation can often prolong a divorce proceeding. It is important if you find yourself in this situation that you have a lawyer working for you that is accustomed to working for clients that they might not meet face-to-face until possibly their first court appearance.

On December 19, 2003, the President of the United States signed into law H.R. 100, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This law completely rewrites the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1940, expanding many of the previous law’s civil protections. One of the most significant sections of the SCRA as it relates to a divorce is Section 202- Stay of Proceedings When Servicemember Has Notice. Section 202 provides that a court may on it’s own motion and shall upon application by the servicemember stay the action for not less than 90 days.

The application made by the service member must satisfy the requirement in Section 202(b) that requires they provide a letter or some other communication that informs the court how their current military duty “materially affects” their ability to appear and also provides the court with a date that they will be available to appear. Further the servicemember needs to provide a letter or other communication from their commanding officer that informs the court that their current duty prevents their appearance and that leave is not authorized for the servicemember at the time the letter was written.