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Military Divorce Lawyers in Dothan, AL

Military family members who are involved in divorce face a number of great challenges. When things become challenging and difficult to deal with, families turn to the lawyers at Smith & McGhee, PC. We offer our clients experienced, compassionate and straightforward legal advice, and have experience handling a wide range of legal matters involving military family law.

Our Dothan military divorce attorneys have decades of experience resolving family law matters through negotiations, mediation and in trial. Regardless of how complex or straightforward your situation may seem, you have the benefit of knowing that a skilled team will be handling all aspects of your case.

Military Divorce Differs from Civilian Divorce

In a civilian divorce, a party to a divorce will likely not experience any adverse employment consequences for their actions, which may have paved the way for the divorce or their post-filing conduct that may add to the animosity or appear to be done in vengeance. Soldiers who are unfaithful to their spouses can face harsh consequences, including court-martial. Based on this, service members who do not provide family support can also face a court-martial.

Also, military retirement, pension benefits, and disability benefits that the service member may have earned over an extensive career may come into play in the case of a long-term marriage.

Filing for Military Divorce in AL

To be eligible to file for divorce in AL, you or your spouse must be residents of the state or be stationed here. In general, if one spouse resides in AL, they may file for divorce here as long as they have been in the state for a minimum of six months, regardless of the state or country of residence of the other spouse.

There are certain protections in place for deployed service members, and both parties in the divorce must be aware of these protections. In AL, courts can delay divorce proceedings until an active-duty party returns to the US and can appear in court on their own behalf. The Service Members Civil Relief Act provides this protection to soldiers.

But the active-duty spouse is entitled to waive this protection and proceed with the divorce case, even if they are stationed outside the country. The expert Alabama divorce lawyers at Smith & McGhee have a comprehensive understanding of military divorce and family laws and can offer you strong legal support.

Divorcing a Member of the Armed Services

If you are married to a service member and seek a divorce, you will need to have them personally served with the divorce papers, which can be difficult but manageable. After they are served, the service member can seek a stay on the divorce proceedings until 60 days after they return from active duty.

Former spouses can get medical and commissary privileges for life if the spouse was married to a member of the armed services during at least 20 years of military service. However, if the spouse remarries, these privileges will end. If you seek a divorce and either you or your spouse is an active or retired service member, our AL military divorce lawyers can protect your best interests.

Military Families and Child Custody

For families going through a military divorce, child custody has a set of entirely different guidelines. While the same standard of the “child’s best interest” will always apply to all custody cases, the service member may be transferred to a distant base station or may be deployed.

In case of deployment, how will the service member maintain contact with their children? How will a custody agreement change if there is an increase in rank (and pay) or transfer to a new base station? It is essential to come to a resolution on these matters.

Service families are mobile over an entire career. The service member is usually at the mercy of Command to determine where they will be sent in the world, and for what reason. They cannot become stationary just because a divorce has taken place.

For such issues, you will need to work with a military divorce lawyer who is aware of all considerations necessary for a service member and their family to maintain a relationship with their kids. Your attorney must be knowledgeable on all legal options available in light of the service member’s employment.

Child Support, Alimony, and Military Divorce

The service member will need to pay spousal and child support without a court order to do so, and Command will intervene in this area, except for the Air Force. Alabama statutes will not determine this figure, which usually orders higher amounts than Command will require.

As mentioned above, Command can and will require spousal and child support payments without a court order, with the Air Force being an exception. But what happens when the matter of support goes through the judicial system in a divorce, and an order for payment is generated? The spousal and child support figures determined by the state are often higher than the Command will necessitate.

Notably, AL spousal support and child support order must be drafted in a different manner when the case involves a service member. Before effectuating garnishment against the service member’s pay, the Office of Personnel Management must approve these orders.

If an inexperienced lawyer prepares this order, unaware of the OPM’s requirements, time and money will be wasted when the OPM repudiates the order. Thus, it is vital to work with an attorney with a comprehensive understanding of OPM requirements.

Military Retirement Inclusions and Protections

Service members usually have their retired pay and a Thrift Savings Plan. A court can divide the Thrift Savings plan between the spouses, and the ex-spouse can transfer their share to a separate account if they choose to do so. However, retired pay is quite different, where the actual income stream is divided, usually on a pro-rata/percentage basis.

The outcome is not a dollar figure to which an ex-spouse is entitled, and that can be transferred to an individual account. It merely refers to the percentage of retired pay that becomes available upon the service member’s retirement and only for either spouse’s lifetime. The income stream stops when either the service member or the ex-spouse passes away.

Legal Assistance by Dedicated AL Military Family Law Attorneys

At the law offices of Smith & McGhee, our skilled military divorce lawyers in AL are often asked questions on the military aspects of the following:

  • Child custody and child support
  • Child visitation, a massive concern when parents are stationed halfway around the world
  • Division of pension benefits, retirement benefits, disability benefits, and other armed forces privileges

We provide you with detailed information on the above facets and offer you strong legal counsel and support. Our lawyers are 100 percent committed to the men and women that serve our country and their families. If you are a member of the armed forces or a spouse considering divorce in AL, call today at (334) 702-1744 for a free initial consultation. 

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