If you serve in the military or your spouse is a military service member and you are contemplating a divorce, it is best to speak to a military divorce lawyer. Military divorces are quite different from traditional divorces in many aspects. That’s why it is crucial to find a lawyer that specializes in military divorce. The most significant differences include the rules and regulations that apply to these proceedings and the unique benefits that military members are entitled to. A military divorce lawyer understands all these aspects and can represent you well in court to ensure that you get a fair settlement.
In this article, we are discussing everything you need to know when it comes to hiring a military divorce lawyer, including reasons to hire a military divorce lawyer and how to hire the right one. Let’s delve into them.
Reasons to hire a military divorce lawyer
Here are some of the top reasons why you should hire a military divorce lawyer if you are a member of the military or you are married to a military and you are going through a divorce.
- A military divorce lawyer understands military divorces better
As mentioned above, military divorces are quite different from traditional divorces. A military divorce lawyer understands this. U.S. military members and their spouses must follow divorce regulations than civilians. For example, a service member on active duty is excerpted from “default” divorce- a failure to respond to a divorce action.
Usually, when a person is served with legal papers, they are required to respond in some way like appearing in court or filing an Answer and Counter-Petition to divorce. Failing to do either of these can lead to severe consequences. This in-depth understanding of military divorce can impact your case significantly.
- The lawyer will answer all your questions
When contemplating a divorce, numerous questions are running through your mind. You are probably asking yourself how child custody will be settled, how your property will be divided amongst you, how the divorce will proceed if you or your spouse is still on active duty, etc. A military divorce lawyer is familiar with military regulations and can put your fears to rest and provide you with the essential information you need.
In a nutshell, a military divorce lawyer will walk with you through the unique challenges that come with military divorce and guide you on your rights and interests using their years of experience handling military divorces.
- The lawyer will ensure fair property division
Just like any other divorce case, military divorce cases also face a huge challenge of the division of financial assets. Spouses of service members are typically entitled to half of the member’s disposal of retired military pay acquired during the marriage.
However, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act [USFSPA] exempts former spouses from any portion of the service member’s pay, including combat-related compensation and disability pay. Since a military divorce lawyer is familiar with these differences, they can help your divorce process go smoothly and swiftly, while protecting your interests.
- A military divorce lawyer understands how custody and child support arrangements are handled
When it comes to military divorces, child support, child custody, and visitation are arranged in the “best interest of the child”, which is the same standard used in a civilian divorce. However, visitation and custody arrangements can be very complicated because service members may be called for duty at any time, or they may be required to move to another state or country for work. A military divorce lawyer understands all these and will ensure that the agreement accounts for all of these.
How to hire a military divorce lawyer
Now that you have explored some of the reasons why you hire a military divorce lawyer, let’s now take a look at how you can hire the right military divorce layer.
- Pay attention to the qualifications of the military divorce lawyer
Qualifications are among the first things you need to focus on when hiring a military divorce lawyer. You need to ensure that the lawyer you intend to hire is a professional who has completed his or her training from a recognized law school. You can determine this by checking the lawyer’s credentials. A military divorce is more complicated than a civilian divorce, that’s why you need to ensure that the lawyer you hire is qualified to handle the divorce case.
- Experience level
Experience also matters when it comes to hiring a military divorce lawyer. How many years has the lawyer been handing military divorces? How many cases have they handled involving military members? How many cases have they won? Getting answers to these questions can help you gauge the lawyer’s experience on military divorces. Having a lawyer with military law experience on your side can provide you with crucial information that can help your case in a huge way.
- Check how the lawyer communicates
Communication is key when it comes to divorce cases. As mentioned above, military divorce can be quite complex and there are things you may not understand. So you need to hire a lawyer who can explain things to you in a simple way that you can understand. If you ask the lawyer any questions, he or she should answer you clearly and directly to the point.
You should also pay attention to the lawyer’s availability. You need a lawyer who will always be available for you. You can determine this by asking them during your initial consultation about their availability. If you feel like the lawyer is too busy and won’t give your divorce process the attention it needs, you can look for another lawyer.
- Legal fees
Finally, when hiring a military divorce lawyer, you need to pay attention to their legal fees. Divorce lawyers generally charge differently for their legal services; some charge higher while others charge affordable rates. You can ask the lawyer during your initial meeting about their charges. It is advisable to hire a military divorce lawyer whose fees suit your budget. However, don’t base your hiring decision on cost alone; pay attention to other things, such as the lawyer’s experience, commitment, and communication skills.