Do you need a military divorce lawyer?
These attorneys specialize in handling marriage separations and other legal matters.
A military divorce lawyer understands the unique challenges and obstacles that service members must overcome.
For this reason, they are often the best source for a defense in the event of a divorce.
Find out how to choose the best military divorce lawyer for your circumstances.
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Finding a Military Divorce Lawyer
Divorce is not the beginning of the end.
Rather, it’s a transition into a new phase of your life and one that must get managed correctly.
In general, divorce and other types of legal separation are time consuming and expensive.
Moreover, they can get especially messy which is why hiring an experienced military divorce lawyer can make all the difference in the world.
These types of specialized lawyers are knowledgeable and understanding regarding the unique conditions of a divorce in the military.
Consequently, they may represent either the service member or the military spouse seeking the divorce.
Today, it’s never been more important to select a good military divorce lawyer.
The decision can represent the difference between winning a favorable outcome in court or having to settle with an unfair compromise.
Military attorneys, otherwise known as judge advocates (or JAGs), are available to serve military personnel.
As a result, if you have a pressing legal matter, judge advocates are often the best source for those that serve in the military.
JAGs are seasoned in military law yet also may offer specialized backgrounds, such as those that also specialize in family law.
Therefore, hiring a military divorce lawyer is generally the best defense for dealing with an unrelenting ex-partner.
However, seeking legal representation that serves in the military is usually not enough.
Furthermore, service members should consider hiring a military divorce lawyer with a stellar track record.
Lawyers, like any other profession, offer varying levels of experience in relation to family law or military matters.
Moreover, some are more highly regarded by their peers and clients than others.
Hence, make sure you address the experience and reputation of a lawyer during the initial consultation (more information, below).
Military Divorce – What You Need to Know
Often, it’s the job of a legal professional to handle the divorce proceeding.
Nevertheless, it’s also the responsibility of service members and military spouses going through a separation to understand how the process works.
Doing so, assists you with saving time, money, and emotional strain regarding the divorce.
Thus, seeking the legal counsel of a military lawyer helps explain and manage the complicated process.
Military Divorce Laws
In general, military lawyers dealing with divorce are informed about state law and local procedures that will govern a divorce.
It’s worthwhile to mention that divorce in the military is much different in many regards compared to a typical divorce.
Consequently, military divorce lawyers are usually extremely knowledgeable in terms of federal and state statutes.
For example, they can assist with a divorce that gets filed while overseas or dealing with abandonment.
Additionally, judge advocates can expand on federal laws that may apply to your situation, such as The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.
Then, there are other factors to consider like income taxes, child custody, and wills.
Moreover, military personnel should bring up the Servicemember Civil Relief Act and how it may apply to their situation.
In general, the rules and regulations of a divorce are dictated by where the divorce is filed.
Nonetheless, military regulations may also apply, especially regarding the eligibility of military benefits following the separation.
Military Legal Assistance
The good news is that free legal assistance is available to military personnel at nearby military bases / installations.
The Legal Assistance Office may provide legal services, including:
- Separate Legal Assistance Attorneys
- Legal Advice
Often, mediation is a faster and much more affordable way to handle a divorce as opposed to going to court.
The 2 parties generally sit down and work through the problems with a mediator before coming to a final compromise for ending the marriage.
Mediation is also confidential making it a quality option for military personnel to consider.
Finally, free online legal resources are available to consult, such as the American Bar Association and Law Help Initiative.
Filing for Divorce
It’s worth noting that for the most part a military divorce follows much of the same procedure as a typical, civilian divorce.
Be that as it may, where military divorce really gets complicated is during the filing stage.
For example, in the civilian world, determining the place to file for divorce is a no-brainer – it’s where you reside.
However, in the military, it’s more than typical for a couple to originally be from different states, married in another state, as well as currently living in a third/fourth state.
Therefore, the dilemma becomes where exactly do you file for divorce?
According to legal experts, military couples do not have to file in the state where they got married.
Moreover, residency does not have to be established in a state to file a divorce so long as the other partner does not object to the jurisdiction.
In general, military divorce proceedings usually take place where couples pay taxes, vote, and have a driver’s license issued.
Of course, that can change if the new duty station is recent, or a partner prefers to file elsewhere.
While every state is different in terms of how it handles divorce proceedings, today, all states feature some form of “no-fault” divorce.
Accordingly, military couples may end a marriage without proving that either party did anything wrong.
Military Divorce Lawyer Initial Consultation
It’s not wise to proceed with a divorce before consulting with legal representation.
As a result, make sure that you book at least one consultation with a military divorce lawyer.
The good news is that these initial consultations are generally free and confidential.
The initial consultation is established as an initial meeting or interview between the attorney and prospective client.
You are not obligated to anything should you deem another lawyer is more capable of being the legal representation.
Regardless, it’s very important to take the first meeting with a lawyer seriously.
Here, you will get your first impressions of the military lawyer.
What is their background in the military? How experienced are they handling military divorce cases?
These are the types of questions you should ask an attorney before deciding to hire anyone as legal counsel.
Another outstanding question to ask is how many family trials has the lawyer managed in the past 3-5 years.
Moreover, while you are hoping the military divorce lawyer will be honest and trustworthy, you also must be candid.
It’s crucial during this meeting not to hold back regarding your situation.
Remember, the meeting is entirely confidential and nothing you provide will hurt you in any regard.
Thus, share all the relevant details pertaining the relationship and what has led up to the separation / divorce.
It may include personal information about your or your spouse that you’ve never divulged with anyone else before.
Again, keep in mind this meeting is confidential and part of the process of helping a lawyer understand your situation.
Military Divorce Lawyer Retainer & Fees
It never hurts to write down your questions for an attorney beforehand and practice the meeting.
Then, you’ll be more prepared to ask tough questions such as those regarding a retainer or other lawyer fees.
It’s important to keep in mind that every lawyer charges differently, so you must inquire about their fees.
You need to get specifics, including how much they charge for divorce services as well as their communication methods.
For example, some types of legal representation may only agree to meet with you over the phone, which may not be acceptable in your case.
Moreover, lawyers generally charge a retainer fee.
The retainer fee is usually a payment that is made upfront, sort of like a down payment on a car or house.
Generally, the retainer is deducted from the billable services once the case is resolved.
Military divorce proceedings typically get more expensive when they go to court, which can culminate in more expenses for the client.
As a result, make sure you get a complete breakdown of all legal fees associated with the law firm.
Attorney Shopping – Finding the Best Military Divorce Lawyer
As previously mentioned, you should strive to meet with at least 2 lawyers before selecting one for your needs.
Lawyer shopping is an important step in the divorce process.
You should keep in mind that this decision involves your future, including some of your most prized possessions and property.
Therefore, finding the right military divorce lawyer for your needs takes a little time and patience.
It’s especially crucial if you also do not have a lot of money and seek affordable legal counsel.
In general, the best military divorce lawyers are those that keep the interests of their clients, first.
Those that are intent on winning a case may take it to trial which forces the client to suffer through more money and embarrassment.
Those that are compassionate and fair-minded will keep your interests in mind and strive to solve problems rather than create them.
Also, sometimes when meeting with a lawyer they may have another recommendation based on your personal circumstances.
Friends and family may also be helpful during this difficult period in the life of a service member or military spouse.
Regardless of your method in obtaining legal counsel, the step is necessary.
It can help secure military benefits which may be threatened by a divorce, including housing, health care, and child support.
Specialized Law / Legal Practice
The American legal system is becoming more and more specialized.
As a result, several branches of legal exist that were not in existence 20 – 30 years ago.
Legal has become much more specialized including areas of law that focus on family issues or the military.
For this reason, in the present day it’s often best to consult a lawyer that specializes in the type of law your circumstances fall under.
Thus, attorneys with a background in family law, personal injury, or military law are usually the best sources.
These types of legal professionals have experience in divorce and custody battles, along with how military rules or regulations may influence the case.
For example, the typical military divorce requires specialized efforts like determining residency and determining child custody.
Military lawyers (JAGs) or attorneys with a military background are generally your best options.
It’s especially true when getting into a legal dispute over child custody and support.
Those that specialize in military law and family law will understand how to negotiate the best possible settlement regarding children.
Military divorce lawyers can also protect your assets and benefits, which may be threatened because of the legal separation.
Managing Worry & Stress of Military Divorce
Service members and military spouses cannot entirely guarantee how a lawyer will perform in court, should the occasion call for it.
Nevertheless, the goal is to determine which attorney seems like the most competent and capable while meeting during the initial consultation.
The goal is to hire legal representation that is overzealous and persistent in the courtroom, yet your personal counselor back at the office.
The best military divorce lawyers understand how to treat clients during this difficult and stressful time period.
They assist individuals who may feel worried or concerned about the outcome, especially when children are involved.
Legal representation can refer you to counseling services or financial assistance while enduring the legal process.
They also may be able to offer advice with how to deal with children who are struggling with the separation.
Finally, the top attorneys that handle military divorce prepare clients for successful cross-examination.
In the event the divorce goes to trial, both parties will likely be called to the stand.
Often, the inability for a lawyer to prepare their client for cross-examination is where many cases fail.
For this reason, you may want to question prospective lawyers at the first meeting how likely they suspect your divorce may end up in court, or another type of mediation service.
Related Article – Air Force Paralegals: What They Do, Pay, Training, And More
Marriage is not easy and separation is even harder.
Unfortunately, if the time comes to call it quits and you need to hire legal representation – consider a military divorce lawyer.
These lawyers specialize in legal matters that involve the military and usually also have a background in family law.
Accordingly, they are generally the best source for legal representation.
Nonetheless, you’ll want to meet with multiple military lawyers before settling on one to manage the divorce.
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