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Military Divorce In New Jersey

Because people in the United States military move so frequently and might not have the established residency to file for divorce in New Jersey (commonly required to be one year), a question often asked is how a military couple would go about divorcing if one or both are stationed in New Jersey or if one spouse is in the service and the other is not. They might not live in the state permanently. When a military couple gets divorced in New Jersey, there are different rules as to how it will be dealt with legally, how the assets will be divided, rules regarding alimony, child support, and other benefits.

Where Would A New Jersey Military Divorce Be Filed?

word divorce split in two

The person who is choosing to file for divorce might have options as to where he or she will file. It depends on where each spouse claims as the legal residence and the divorce laws applicable in that particular state. In New Jersey, a servicemember is able to file for divorce in the state in which the servicemember is currently stationed, the state in which the spouse is currently residing, and the state in which the servicemember claims residence.

When it comes to scheduling the hearings, courts will understand if the servicemember is unavailable to attend due to being overseas on active duty. It is common that the court will allow the servicemember to take part in the hearing over the telephone. If the servicemember is not completely capable of participating in the court proceeding, there is a law known as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act that will give the court the choice of staying the proceedings until such time that the servicemember is able to take part. While waiting for the servicemember to be available, it is possible for the spouse to receive temporary support from the servicemember.

Child Support And Custody Issues

man in miltary uniform hugging child

If there has not been an agreement regarding the amounts, there are different rules regarding child support and alimony depending on the branch of the military—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines—that the servicemember is a part of. For a military member's wages to be garnished, it must be applied for through a court order. The servicemember's Leave and Earnings Statement will be studied by the attorney representing the spouse to determine how much support can be paid. Also to be considered is how much will need to be paid for essentials such as food, a place to live, and clothing.

Custody and visitation will be considered differently as well. New Jersey limits the power the court has to make a decision regarding permanent custody and visitation rights for the non-custodial parent until 90 days have passed from the conclusion of the servicemember's deployment. Changes in custody or visitation cannot be requested due to a parent's military deployment alone. Parenting time can be modified based on whether or not the servicemember is able to spend time with the child due to military obligations. In addition, the servicemember is able to allow a designated person of his or her choosing and who has a close relationship with the parent and child to stand in for the servicemember during the parenting time.

How Are Pensions And Benefits Affected By Military Divorce?

pile of money

The military pension accumulated by a servicemember while married is considered a marital asset. This is based on the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act. However, this is not the same as if it was in a civilian court and the assets and pension were being divided between a civilian couple who are divorcing. The Survivor Benefit Plan can also be decided via court order if there is a change in the beneficiaries.

Health care benefits are a significant issue in a military divorce. If there is a divorce and the servicemember served for twenty or more years with the marriage's duration being twenty years concurrent to the servicemember being in the military, the spouse might be eligible to receive medical coverage under TRICARE. This is only applicable if the spouse does not receive coverage through an employer and has not remarried.

If the spouse and servicemember were not married for twenty overlapping years coinciding with the military service, the terms are different. With twenty years of marriage and fifteen years of military service, the spouse is entitled to one year of medical coverage. After that, spouses who do not meet the requirements to continue getting coverage will receive some benefits—based on certain requirements—under the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP).

Speak To An Experienced NJ Divorce Attorney

The rules regarding a divorce for military families can be confusing and complicated. They are not the same as for a civilian couple choosing to end their marriage and the various rules must be understood. If you or a loved one are considering getting a divorce and one or both of the spouses are in the military, the attorneys at the Law Firm of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey can assist you. Simply because one or both members of a marriage are in the military does not mean that they are unable to file for divorce, have custody hearings, receive alimony, child support and health benefits. People from Ocean County and Monmouth County, or from towns such as Toms River, Red Bank or any other area of New Jersey have come to Villani & DeLuca, P.C. for assistance in a divorce proceeding.

Other Resources For Military Divorce 

Legal Separation In New Jersey

Relocating After A New Jersey Divorce

A Father’s Rights In New Jersey

Abandonment: What Does it Mean?

Contact the lawyers at Villani & DeLuca, P.C. for advice regarding a military divorce. Call 732-751-4991today.

Vincent DeLuca, Esq.

As a founding partner at Villani & DeLuca, Vincent DeLuca is one of only a few Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney in Ocean County, New Jersey. Mr. DeLuca has helped many clients navigate the delicate details of their own divorce. Mr. DeLuca is also a trained divorce mediator and collaborative divorce attorney. Call today at (732) 751-4991 to speak to Mr. DeLuca or one of our experienced NJ Divorce Lawyers.