Colorado Springs Military Divorce Lawyer

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Colorado Springs Military Divorce Attorney

Dealing with a divorce is never easy. Tempers flare, private matters can come to light, and the entire process may be extremely contentious. A military divorce is not much different from a civilian divorce, apart from the fact that service members involved in a divorce must abide by certain rules. If you are an active service member seeking a divorce, contact a Colorado Springs military divorce lawyer to discuss your next steps.

The skilled lawyers at The Law Center P.C. have extensive knowledge of both military and family law. Therefore, they understand the challenges military members and spouses may face during divorce. Reach out to our experienced team to begin your divorce process.

Colorado Springs Military Divorce Lawyer

Filing for a Military Divorce

Qualifying for a military divorce is not much different from qualifying for a civilian divorce. You still have to go through divorce court and legally end your marriage. You’ll also still need to divide up property and decide on a custody agreement for any children you may have.

The major differences in a military divorce largely deal with where to file for a military divorce, as well as each state’s residency requirements. Every state has different rules for residency. For Colorado, at least one of the spouses filing for divorce must be a resident of Colorado for at least 91 days prior to filing for divorce. However, if the military spouse is stationed in Colorado, they can claim residency in the state regardless of how long they have been stationed there already.

The Divorce Process

Filing for divorce in Colorado Springs and throughout Colorado can be a complex process due to both the paperwork and the emotional distress that comes with divorce. Here is the overall divorce process as it stands in Colorado Springs. There may be some differences when one or both of the spouses is in the military, but the overall process is largely the same:

  1. Understanding the Requirements: Before beginning the process of divorce in Colorado, it is crucial that you understand how it all works. Two specific things need to be addressed promptly before you can start filing for divorce:
    1. Residency Requirement: Colorado has a very specific residency requirement that ensures the Colorado courts have jurisdiction over your case. One or both of the spouses need to have been a resident of Colorado for at least 91 days. If you file anyway without meeting this requirement, the court may dismiss your case outright.
    2. Grounds for Divorce: Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, which means that it does not matter what led to the divorce. One or both spouses need only to say the marriage is “irreconcilable.” There does not need to be specific grounds for divorce.
  2. Reach Out to a Lawyer: A lawyer’s insight can only help you, especially when also dealing with military jurisdiction. An experienced divorce lawyer can advise you on the proper steps to take and which to avoid. Pursuing a divorce without an attorney is an option, but having someone knowledgeable about your situation can only help.
  3. Prepare Documentation: You will need to prepare the proper documents before moving forward with your divorce. This includes the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation and the Summons for Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation, both of which are necessary and crucial to end your marriage legally or separate.
  4. Serve Your Spouse: Once you have prepared the documentation on your end, the next step is to have your spouse served the divorce papers. You can have the papers hand-delivered to your spouse, have them mailed, or use a messenger service to ensure that the spouse received them. Make sure you keep a receipt that proves your spouse received the divorce papers.
  5. File With the Court: Once the documents have been prepared and your spouse has been served with the divorce papers, you’ll need to file your divorce documents with the proper Colorado Springs court.
  6. Attend a Hearing: If you and your partner do not reach an agreement between yourselves, you must attend a court hearing where the specifics of your divorce will be decided for you by a judge. Reaching an agreement without the needs of the court expedites things and makes the process go much more smoothly, but it is not always an option. Sometimes, a judge is needed to decide things unemotionally and logically.

Can You File for Divorce When Your Spouse Is Actively Deployed?

There are times when a civilian spouse can file for divorce while their military spouse is on active duty. The military spouse may be protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which protects active duty service members from legal proceedings while on duty.

The SCRA will prevent the military spouse from being blindsided with divorce papers while on deployment. The process may be postponed or even suspended until the military spouse’s deployment is ended and they can return to handle the process themselves.

Under the SCRA, an active duty service member who is within 90 days of return from their deployment can request a delay of the divorce proceedings for up to 90 days. They must get confirmation from their commanding officer that they do not have approved leave to appear in court.

So long as the active service member is prevented from taking part in their divorce proceedings, the court can grant continuous extensions so the divorce cannot continue until both parties are available to participate in the proceedings.

Property Division in a Military Divorce

If a divorce proceeds to court, property division in a military divorce is decided by state law, just like in civilian divorces. Under Colorado state law, property division is equitable, so each party receives a share of property that is as fair as possible.

This property division rule does not change in a military divorce, but there are specific assets that may be divided a bit differently. For example, civilian spouses may be entitled to receive direct payments from a military pension through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) if they meet what is called the “10/10 Rule.” Through this rule, the military spouse must complete 20 years of service, and at least 10 years of their service must overlap with 10 years of the marriage.

If the civilian spouse does not qualify for pension payments under the DFAS, they are only able to receive their portion of military retired pay by having the military spouse pay them directly. There may not be any qualification for payment at all. Every case is different.

FAQs for Military Divorce Attorneys

Q: What Is a Military Spouse Entitled to in a Divorce?

A: A military spouse is entitled to certain benefits in a divorce, thanks in part to the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. This law is federally established, and it protects certain rights of those who were formerly married to military members. It allows them to receive medical and certain social benefits if the spouse fits the “20/20/20 Rule.” The marriage lasted 20 years, the military spouse was active for 20 years, and the former spouse was married during at least 20 years of their spouse’s service.

Q: What Is the 10-Year Rule in a Military Divorce?

A: Under the USFSPA, the 10-year rule aids in deciding how much a civilian spouse may receive in direct military pension payments following a divorce. Essentially, the military spouse must complete at least 20 years of service, with at least 10 years of their service overlapping with at least 10 years of marriage. If the marriage meets these requirements, then the civilian spouse could qualify for pension payments. If it doesn’t, then they likely will not qualify.

Q: Do Military Spouses Get Half the Retirement in a Divorce?

A: If the military spouse qualifies for pension payments under the USFSPA, then they could very well receive half of their spouse’s retirement benefits in a divorce. However, thanks to the USFSPA, no more than half of the disposable retirement pay in question can be paid to the other spouse as a direct payment. If child support or alimony is involved, that number can be increased to at least 65 percent in some situations.

Q: How Do I Protect My TSP in a Divorce?

A: There is no official way to protect a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) in a divorce under equitable distribution laws. The most reliable way to protect your TSP in a divorce is through a prenuptial agreement, which protects all of your assets prior to marriage in the event of a divorce, including any of your retirement investments. If you do not protect your TSP through a prenup, then the TSP will be divided equitably between both spouses as per Colorado property division laws.

Contact a Military Divorce Lawyer Today

Going through a divorce can be extremely difficult. In the face of a life-changing event that many view as traumatic, you can benefit significantly from an experienced family attorney. The legal team at The Law Center P.C. can assist you in building a case that protects you and your assets in the wake of a divorce.

We can walk you through your options and help you find a way to work toward a divorce agreement that benefits you and your family. Contact us to schedule a consultation as soon as you can.

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