Olsinski Law Firm team

Military Divorce

Dedicated Charlotte Family Law Attorneys Committed to Protecting the Rights of Divorcing Service Members

While the divorce process often raises significant challenges for all parties involved, service members and their spouses face additional issues that must be resolved before a divorce is finalized. Most notably, the differences between a military divorce and a civilian divorce come down to the division of military benefits; however, there are also some procedural differences. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we’ve assembled a knowledgeable team of Charlotte divorce lawyers who have specific experience handling military separations and divorces. We can help you understand—and protect—your rights to ensure you are treated fairly throughout the process.

How to File for a Military Divorce in North Carolina

While military courts have jurisdiction over many issues related to service members and their benefits, state courts maintain jurisdiction over marriages and divorces. Thus, a petition for military divorce must be filed in state court. However, determining which state you should file in can be tricky.

In North Carolina—as well as in most other states—one spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce. This means that if you or your spouse is temporarily stationed in one state, you may need to wait until you’ve lived in the state for six months or file in another state.

Additionally, under the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act, military spouses who are served with divorce paperwork are entitled to stay, or pause, the proceedings. However, they must notify the court of their intention to seek a stay.

Serving Members of the Armed Forces

Due to the nature of service members’ jobs, there are unique considerations when it comes to “service.” Service refers to the process of formally notifying a party of a pending legal proceeding. Before a court will hear any divorce case, the filing spouse must prove that they’ve served the other spouse. Typically, obtaining the military spouse’s consent to accept service or seeking a waiver of service is the easiest way to serve someone in the military. Hiring a process server may also suffice if the military spouse will not waive the service requirement. However, for military spouses on active duty in a hostile area, service may be especially challenging to effect.

Unique Considerations in Military Divorces

Aside from the above procedural differences between a civilian divorce and military divorce, there are also a few issues that require additional consideration. For example, when a court sets out to divide a couple’s assets as a part of a divorce, it will usually consider the military spouse’s military retirement pay as an “asset” that is subject to equitable distribution. Thus, depending on the length of the marriage, the non-military spouse may be entitled to a portion of the military spouse’s retirement.

Also, divorcing couples must also consider the impact of one parent’s service when thinking about child custody and visitation. As a general rule, North Carolina courts handle the initial child custody determination in a military divorce as it would in a civilian divorce, meaning the court bases its decision on what is in the child’s best interests. However, the following issues should be addressed in any child custody and visitation agreement:

  • What if either parent is deployed?
  • Who will cover the costs of transporting a child if the parents live in different states?
  • Is a military parent able to make up missed visitation time once they return?
  • Are the parents capable of facilitating over-the-phone or video chat visitation during deployment?
Are You Interested in Learning More About Military Divorces in North Carolina?

If you are a service member or married to a service member, and you are considering divorce, it is important to reach out to a dedicated Charlotte divorce lawyer as soon as possible. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our dedicated team of North Carolina military divorce attorneys have decades of experience helping service members and military spouses understand and protect their rights. We provide free consultations to all prospective clients and are available to meet with you as soon as possible—in person or over the phone. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte divorce lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord family law attorneys at 704-918-4747. We represent clients in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Iredell, Rowan, and Union Counties.

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