Divorce can generally be a challenging and time-consuming process, but a divorce involving a military servicemember may be even more challenging. A military divorce presents unique variables that often don’t exist for civilians, and the military even has its own rules for divorce that apply on a state-by-state basis.
Divorce involving a military servicemember in Florida addresses issues such as spousal support, child custody, family benefits, and the division of the servicemember’s retirement pay. Reaching resolutions to these matters isn’t always simple, particularly when the military has its own policies for how these matters should be addressed.
Keep reading to get an overview of how various issues are handled during a military divorce, but always contact a family lawyer experienced in military divorce for the specific help you require.
Florida Residency Requirements for a Military Divorce
The residency requirements to get a divorce in Florida are the same whether someone is a civilian or military servicemember. If a couple wishes to file for divorce in the state, they must have lived in Florida for at least six months before filing. Only when the residency requirement is met will the court proceed with a petition to divorce in Florida.
Grounds for a Military Divorce in Florida
The grounds for a military divorce in Florida are also the same for civilians. Florida offers two reasons for divorce: the marriage is irretrievably broken or one of the spouses is mentally incapacitated.
Because Florida is a no-fault divorce state, the petitioning party doesn’t need to demonstrate a reason to pursue the divorce on either grounds. A divorce permitted on the grounds of mental incapacitation, however, would require the incapacitated spouse to have been in such a state for at least three years before initiating the divorce.
How Is Property Divided During a Military Divorce?
Any divorce conducted in Florida abides by the application of equitable distribution. This means that marital property belonging to both spouses is divided between them according to what the court deems fair, which is not necessarily equal. Typically, equitable distribution takes into account what each party’s contribution to marriage was, which can include earning income, homemaking, and raising children.
Military divorces may involve retirement benefits that accrued during marriage. If such benefits lasted during the marriage for at least 10 years prior to divorce, these are considered marital property and subject to equitable distribution.
Any property either spouse owned before getting married, or received as an inheritance or personal gift from a third party after marriage, and kept separate from commingling with marital property, may be excluded from consideration for equitable distribution.
Child Custody & Child Support for Military Divorces
In all matters concerning child custody, visitation, and child support, the courts are guided by what judges believe to be in a child’s best interest. Although the courts are prohibited from considering past or future military deployment in these matters, parents who aren’t servicemembers or frequently deployed are often awarded more custody.
Both parents are responsible for financially supporting their child, so it’s likely that the parent with whom a child spends less time will pay child support. The amount of child support is calculated according to the parents’ incomes, number of children they have, and how much custody they share.
Importantly, military servicemembers can’t be ordered to pay more than 60% of their allowances and pay in child support.
Alimony may be granted by the court in a military divorce if requested by either party. Typically, the spouse who would be in the weaker financial position post-divorce is more likely to receive alimony. If a judge determines that a spouse requesting alimony has sufficient financial resources to maintain a decent lifestyle, the petition for alimony may be denied.
If ordered, however, alimony is limited based on the duration of a marriage. At maximum, alimony can’t be ordered to last more than the number of years the marriage lasted, and (as with child support) the court can’t order military service members to pay more than 60% of their allowances and pay in alimony.
We Can Help with Your Military Divorce
Beatriz Zyne, P.A. is committed to advocating for our clients and helping them protect their rights in a military divorce. We understand that the process of a military divorce can be complex due to the unique circumstances surrounding it. From division of benefits to child custody arrangements and more, we are here to provide you with strong legal counsel every step of the way. Our team is experienced in navigating the intricacies of military divorce law and can help you secure a fair outcome for your case.
For more detailed information about our services, schedule a consultation with us today.