Military families often have the same concerns and goals as civilian families during the divorce process. The time has come to end your marriage and you want to set your family up for the best possible future, even though things are uncertain and stressful right now.
However, if one or both spouses are in the military, some aspects of the divorce process are different than a divorce involving two civilians.
Important Differences in Military Divorce Cases
As you prepare to get divorced, you should be aware of unique rules that apply if one or both spouses are in the active-duty military. These rules include:
- Residency requirements. One spouse must either reside in Michigan or be stationed in Michigan. If you, or your spouse, are stationed outside of Michigan, you may prove your intent to keep Michigan residency by showing the court that you have a Michigan driver’s license, you vote in Michigan, you own property in Michigan, or you pay taxes in Michigan.
- Filing for divorce. A Michigan divorce case begins when one spouse files a complaint in court and serves the other spouse with a summons and a copy of the divorce complaint. If the other spouse is on active military duty, then service may be difficult. Accordingly, the active-duty military spouse has two options. The military spouse may: (1) sign a waiver acknowledging the divorce action rather than having a summons and complaint served; or (2) delay the divorce proceedings for a period of time that extends up to 60 days beyond when the spouse is on active duty.
- Parenting time. Shared parenting time may be challenging if a military spouse is stationed outside of Michigan or is on active duty. Both parents should seek legal counsel to make sure that parenting time and child custody rights and goals are protected.
- Child and spousal support. In a military divorce, the calculation of child and spousal support includes housing allowances, salary enhancements, cost of living adjustments, and special pay.
- Retirement benefits. A person who serves in the military for at least 20 years is generally eligible for military retired pay. While the federal government will only divide military retired pay if a couple was married for at least 10 of the 20 years, a Michigan court may require a military spouse to pay a portion of military retired pay to the other spouse even if they were married less than 10 years.
Make Sure Your Rights Are Protected During a MI Divorce
Whether you are the military spouse or the non-military spouse, you may benefit from working with an experienced Michigan divorce lawyer who can advise you of your legal options and make sure that all of your rights are protected. Contact The Cronin Law Firm today for a complimentary consultation.