How the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act can affect divorce filings

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce is an inconvenient experience no matter when it occurs. Regardless of the length of the marriage or the personal circumstances of the spouses, divorce can have major implications for people’s finances and their emotional health.

Some people feel blindsided when they receive notice of a spouse’s divorce filing. Those serving in the military are among those who may not expect their spouse to choose to end a marriage. Someone currently training or serving actively in the military could easily become distracted or even distraught due to divorce proceedings back home.

Thankfully, there are federal laws that help protect servicemembers from scenarios in which legal matters detract from their professional performance. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is a crucial law that applies not just to debt collection and lawsuits but also to divorce filings while someone serves in the military.

What protection does the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offer during divorce?

Servicemembers can delay divorce proceedings in some cases

Properly responding to legal issues requires someone’s presence in court and their ability to focus their time and energy on their legal challenges. Someone currently deployed or actively training is not in a position to give their divorce proceedings their full attention.

The stress that a pending divorce could cause might also lead to them making decisions that affect their safety and the well-being of others. Thankfully, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act  allows someone to at least delay their divorce proceedings until after they complete their current tour of duty. A servicemember who can establish that their duty prevents them from preparing for a divorce and attending court hearings can request a postponement.

While they cannot prevent their spouse from eventually divorcing them, they can delay the process until they return from training or deployment and can actually focus on the end of their marriage. A spouse who files for divorce during a deployment might hope to avoid conflict or to secure certain terms because their spouse is not in a position to respond to the filing effectively.

Thankfully, so long as servicemembers know their rights and make use of them, they can likely avoid a scenario in which they face highly unfavorable divorce outcomes because they cannot devote their full attention to the divorce proceedings. The servicemember should have an opportunity to consult with a lawyer and strategize to protect their finances and their relationship with any children they may share with their spouse.

Learning more about the unique laws that apply to military divorces may benefit those who feel surprised by a spouse’s recent divorce filing. Military servicemembers who understand their protections can avoid a scenario where they might be at a marked disadvantage during a divorce.

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