Military Divorce
Cases in which one or both spouses are in the military present unique problems.

Jurisdiction

This means the court’s authority to decide a case. A court may have jurisdiction to dissolve the marriage (grant a divorce), but not to order support payments. Or, a court may have jurisdiction to order support payments, but not to divide the military retirement. Jurisdiction to make child custody and visitation orders is governed by a different – and complicated – set of laws. Sometimes, the military member may file for dissolution of marriage in the state of military assignment, and the spouse may file in another state. The question of which state has jurisdiction, and over what issues, may be difficult and requires expert legal advice.

Enforcement

Federal law protects members of the military service while on active duty. The court cannot make enforceable orders against an active duty military member unless he or she has legal representation. The judge will appoint an attorney for a military member who does not have representation and is not present in court to represent himself or herself.

Military Dependents

Service members are required to provide certain benefits for their dependents. In case of a marital separation, it is important to know the rights of the non-military spouse.

Military Legal Assistance

The military offers legal assistance for uncontested matters, where the spouses have an agreement. But beware: the military attorneys who draft the agreements do not have to be licensed in California and may be unfamiliar with California law. A poorly drafted agreement may create major legal problems later on, that will be very expensive to fix.

Military Retirement

Military retirement is usually the most valuable asset in a military divorce. Whether you are the military spouse or the non-military spouse, you need expert legal advice to protect your rights and to avoid expensive mistakes. Our attorneys are recognized as experts in this complicated area of the law. Donít try to do it yourself; mistakes are expensive to fix, and sometimes canít be corrected.