Military Divorce in North Carolina

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In North Carolina, divorce proceedings for military personnel are handled similarly to those for civilians. As a “no fault” state, North Carolina does not require the couple to give a reason for wanting a divorce; the divorce is filed in the same manner for both parties, and before a couple can file for divorce, they must be separated for a minimum of one year. The specifics of how to proceed with a military divorce will be covered in detail in this blog post.

In North Carolina, decisions regarding child custody and the division of property and assets are made in accordance with standard state laws. However, there are some obvious distinctions between a military divorce and a non-military divorce, particularly with regard to the response timeframe for active duty members, alimony and child support awards, and military retirement benefit payouts.

To proceed with a military divorce in North Carolina either military personnel or their spouses must live in the state or be stationed there for a minimum of six months . A divorce complaint must be served to active duty military personnel in person. Furthermore, it will not be considered a default if a military member who is currently serving does not promptly respond to a divorce complaint.

The Procedure for Divorce in the Military

A military spouse has certain concerns when they are separated. You might want to start by asking if there is a formal process that needs to be followed in order to start a separation. In North Carolina, you can start a separation without submitting any formal paperwork. All that needs to happen is for you and your partner to reside in separate homes, with neither of you intending to get back together. If it appears that your separation might last longer than you had anticipated, you might want to consider creating a separation agreement.

A Seperation Agreement’s Prep

Documentation that formally outlines the terms of your separation is called a separation agreement. A separation agreement will typically cover the following topics:

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1. Child custody
2. Rights to visitation
3. Contributions to cover your kids’ daily costs
4. Assistance with money to keep up the family house
5. Division of property

The Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

The 1940 law known as the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Civil Relief Act was superseded by the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which was established in 2003. Its purpose is to shield active-duty military personnel from all legal actions when they are serving in a capacity that prevents them from taking time off, allowing them to concentrate on their primary duty of defending the country.

In addition, the Act shields against post-decree actions, such as orders for child or spouse support. The act contains a section titled “anticipatory relief,” which reads as follows:
“(a) APPLICATION FOR RELIEF.—A service member may, during military service or within 180 days of termination of or release from military service, apply to a court for relief — (1) from any obligation or liability incurred by the service member before the service member’s military service; or (2) from a tax or assessment falling due before or during the service member’s military service.”

If a military member anticipates a likely breach, they may use this application for relief to modify their alimony or child support payment obligations.

It is significant to remember that, while on active duty and, at the discretion of the court, for 60 days afterward, service members are shielded from civil lawsuits by the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Divorce is included here. The divorce process won’t end, even though this rule might make it go more slowly.

Generally speaking, the court will consider each case separately and only postpone the divorce for as long as it thinks appropriate in light of the active duty spouse’s circumstances.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA)

The division of military retirement pay in a divorce is governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA). It also offers some protection and benefits to spouses of former military personnel.

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Disposable military retirement pay, is treated as property under USFSPA and may be divided as such in a divorce. If a judge orders that child support or alimony be paid, former military spouses may use their disposable retirement pay to pay for these expenses. Additionally, USFSPA will permit former military spouses to obtain health benefits under specific cases.

Support for Children and Spouses in a Military Divorce

When determining appropriate child and spousal support obligations, divorcing military spouses must take into account both the family support guidelines of the military and the guidelines of the state in which they have filed for divorce. The income of each spouse will factor into the calculation, just like it does in any determination of support.

Instead of utilizing a tax return, a military spouse’s income is determined through the use of a Leave and Earnings Statement. Divorcing couples should also take into account the special benefits that come with being a military spouse, such as free housing or a stipend for food. Divorcing couples should take into account any anticipated changes in their situation that might have an impact on their benefits and income, like mobilization. If a spouse’s circumstances change, support obligations do not automatically alter or end.

Child custody in a Military Divorce

Decisions about child custody between parents in the military and civilian parents may resemble each other quite a bit. A parent’s right to custody or visitation does not change based on their military status, but a parenting plan may consider circumstances unique to the military, such as how visitation or custody arrangements might alter if a parent is deployed. Default child custody rulings do not apply to military personnel. Some states have additional laws that limit decisions about permanent custody while a military member is on deployment, or prohibit a court from using a military parent’s absence from a child as grounds for custody when the parent’s military service caused the absence.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Military Divorce

1. In a divorce, how is a military pension divided?

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act governs the division of military pensions in divorce cases.

2. Military divorces are governed by which jurisdiction?

Military divorce jurisdiction is frequently established by the service member’s official residence or station.

3. Can a non-military spouse get benefits from the military following a divorce?

If particular requirements are fulfilled, such as the length of the marriage overlapping with military service, the non-military spouse may be eligible for certain benefits, such as healthcare.

4. What impact does deployment have on custody agreements?

Child custody agreements may be impacted by deployments, so it’s critical to create a strong parenting strategy to deal with these issues.

5. Are there resources available for divorce-affected military families?

Yes, during the divorce process, military family support services and legal assistance offices can offer assistance and resources.

6. Can a member of the armed forces decline to pay child support?

No, there are legal repercussions for military personnel who fail to pay child support; they are required by law to do so.

7. How do they calculate military alimony?

The length of the marriage, the financial circumstances of both spouses, and the service member’s capacity to pay are some of the factors that go into determining military alimony.

8. Does a divorce from the military affect one’s security clearance?

A military member’s security clearance may indeed be impacted by a divorce, particularly if personal or financial difficulties surface during the process. Notifying the chain of command right away is advised.

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