Compared to a typical civilian divorce, a military divorce in Utah presents several unique issues. Because specific state and federal laws and rules will apply, it is important to consult with a respected military divorce attorney. Froerer & Miles law firm in Ogden, UT, has a proven record of success. Our compassionate, experienced attorneys can guide you through legal proceedings with the minimum amount of stress. If you or your spouse is a military service member—whether active duty, reserve, or retired—and you are facing a divorce, we can provide vital expertise that may help give you peace of mind at a difficult time. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation with us, please contact us today.
Pertinent Issues in Military Divorce
If you or your spouse, or both of you, serve in the military, you have specific obligations and rights that civilians do not have. The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) were enacted to protect military service members from having to fulfill certain civil obligations while on active duty. For example, there are laws in place to protect active duty military members from being held in "default" if they fail to respond to a divorce action. Because of this, divorce actions must be held off until the service member returns home from their active duty obligation. Under the discretion of the local Utah court, the divorce proceeding may be postponed for the entire time the active service member is on duty, and for up to 60 days after. However, any active duty member can waive their right to have divorce proceedings postponed if he or she wishes to continue with the divorce.
Child Custody arrangements can be especially difficult with deployed parents. Under Utah law, if a custodial parent is deployed and the arrangements are acceptable to the noncustodial parent, full-time care of the children can be transferred to the noncustodial parent in the custodial parent’s absence. If the noncustodial parent is the one that is deployed, then their parental rights and visitations may be transferred to a close family member. There are other issues involved that an attorney familiar with the SCRA can help you understand.
In Utah, the civilian child support guidelines, worksheets, and schedules are used to determine the appropriate amount of child support to be paid. However, there are differences between military pay while the service member is deployed and while he or she is serving on base. Our attorneys know how to account for these differences when calculating child support.
Dividing Military Pensions
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) governs how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided upon divorce. The amount of the marital share is based on the accrual of benefits during the length of the marriage. Benefits from the service member’s Survivor Benefit Plan may also be shared with the former spouse, and our attorneys know how to calculate this as well.
Steps in a Military Divorce
The process you follow in a military divorce is generally the same as with a civilian divorce. You begin by filing a petition in the county of residence. To file in Utah, you or your spouse must either reside or be stationed in Utah. The active duty spouse must be personally served with a summons and a copy of the divorce action for a Utah court to have jurisdiction over the active military member. If the divorce is uncontested, then the active duty spouse may not need to be served, provided he or she signs and files a waiver affidavit that acknowledges the divorce action.
Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of the specific issues and federal laws involved with military divorce in Utah. We can guide you successfully through this complex legal terrain with proven expert assistance. To learn more, please schedule a personal consultation.