New members in various branches of the United States military initially discover a staggering amount of rules and regulations they must learn and follow. Nearly every aspect of military life requires a rule or a regulation that often carries a swift penalty for disobedience.
Some unfamiliar situations can present difficulties for those in the service. One perplexing issue is how to discover the requirements for a military divorce.
Military divorce versus civilian divorce
The confusion comes from the service member’s former life as a civilian. Nearly every American understands basic divorce proceedings, from movies if not from experience.
As it is, military personnel may wonder if they are brushing their teeth each day according to the correct military procedure. They may struggle to even imagine how many convoluted regulations the service must have in place for a military divorce.
Required civilian representation
A service member may be surprised to learn that a military divorce involves a civilian attorney. The United States military provides free legal counsel from Judge Advocate General officers. The military stations JAG officers on bases around the country. A nonmilitary spouse can also visit JAG, but each spouse must use a different officer to avoid conflict of interest. For example, when an army base only has one JAG attorney who first meets with the nonmilitary spouse, JAG can refer the enlisted army spouse to a naval JAG officer. The consultations are free; however, JAG cannot file for divorce.
Spouses who are seeking divorce must use a civilian attorney to file paperwork. There are family law attorneys who also specialize in divorce and mediation for military personnel. JAG can direct the couple to the correct state and county to file their divorce paperwork. If the couple chooses a court divorce, each person must hire a civilian attorney for legal representation.
Legal military divorce through mediation
Many military service members and spouses now prefer to use mediation attorney services to eliminate a potentially lengthy and expensive divorce hearing in court. After they file divorce paperwork, the spouses meet with a legally certified civilian mediator available at most family law practices. It is vital for service members to use a family law firm experienced in military divorces.
Spouses do not need their own attorneys during mediation. The mediator is a neutral third party at the firm who helps the couple decide how they wish to handle child custody, child support,and division of both civilian and military assets such as health insurance and retirement funds. When mediation concludes and both spouses agree to the terms, the law firm files the proper divorce documents with the court. A mediated divorce is legal for both military personnel and civilians.