Military Divorce in Tennessee
Brentwood divorce attorney helps you understand the special issues, fights to protect your rights
A military marriage can be complicated. You may have to get used to frequently moving to other parts of the country or even the world. You may have to get used to spending long periods of time apart. And you may have money problems because the non-military spouse can’t hold down a job because of the frequent moves or because the military pay is not adequate to support all the needs of the family. All these additional stresses can make divorce common for military families.
But like the marriage, a military divorce can also be complicated. What if you were married in another state but now you live in Tennessee? Can you file? What if your spouse is stationed halfway around the world and you don’t even know how to get in touch with them? Can you file? I’m Judy A. Oxford, an experienced Brentwood divorce lawyer, and I help my clients understand these and other issues related to military marriage and divorce. I help my clients navigate this often tricky legal terrain and fight to help them try to get the best resolution of their divorce so they can move forward and rebuild their lives more quickly.
Can I file for a military divorce in Tennessee?
The mobility of a military life can make it hard to know who has jurisdiction when it comes to divorce. In Tennessee, generally you can file for divorce if both you and your spouse live in the state, or your spouse lives here. You may also be able to file in Tennessee if you live here but your spouse moved out of state, but you should get legal advice about this. If your spouse has not had a connection with Tennessee, you should still get legal advice to determine if filing in Tennessee is a good option for you.
The military spouse must be served with a summons and a copy of the divorce action. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides some protection for military service members who are away and who may not be able to respond to a complaint for divorce within a certain amount of time. The act provides that a court may not enter a default judgment against a defendant servicemember until after it appoints an attorney to represents the interests of the defendant servicemember. This requirement in effect would probably prevent the court from entering a default judgment. The act further provides for the court to stay a divorce for at least 90 days if the appointed attorney has not been able to contact the defendant servicemember, or if there may be a defense to the action that requires the servicemember to be present in court. That can complicate the matter for spouses who are ready to divorce and to do so as quickly as possible. I help my clients explore all the available options for expediting the case even if the spouse is on active duty so that resolution can be reached more quickly where possible.
The division of assets and military benefits
Military service members and their spouses receive a number of benefits, including retirement pay and health benefits. If you divorce your military spouse, you may still be entitled to some of those benefits. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act allows states to divide military disposable retired pay as marital property upon divorce. The Act requires that a person be married to a service member at least 10 years in order to collect their share of military benefits directly from the military, but if the person were married less than 10 years the military spouse could still be ordered to pay over to the other a share of the benefits they receive, depending on the circumstances. All other property is divided according to Tennessee state law, which divides marital property equitably.
Child support and alimony can still be awarded in a military divorce. The military also has measures for enforcing the payment of such support. For example, a letter can be sent to the member’s commanding officer about failure to pay child support, and the service member can face sanctions. I help my clients explore these options to try to ensure that proper child and spousal support is calculated and paid, and I fight to help them try to get the best division of assets possible.
Work with a divorce attorney in TN experienced with military marriages
Many of the issues involved in a typical divorce can get complicated quickly when you bring aspects of military life and military law into them. You need to work with an attorney who has experience with military divorces and who can help navigate this tricky legal terrain. Contact me, Judy A. Oxford, an experienced Brentwood divorce attorney, to fight for your rights. Call me today at (615) 791-8511 to schedule a free consultation, or use the secure form on my website to contact me for a confidential consultation.