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Military Divorce

Charlotte Military Divorce Attorneys

Experienced assistance for military service members and veterans in North Carolina

North Carolina is home to many brave and dedicated service members. Our members of the military sacrifice a great deal in service to their country. They lose valuable time with their spouses and children, as well as many putting their lives on the line every single day – often thousands of miles around the globe. When military families go through a divorce, they can face some difficult and complicated challenges.

At Epperson Law Group, PLLC, our family law attorneys bring a unique and experienced perspective to military divorce. Our leading attorneys, James Epperson and Steve Ockerman, are former U.S. Military JAG Corps officers, and each have decades of experience in Charlotte and North Carolina law. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your family law needs today.

How are military and traditional divorce alike?

Generally, most North Carolina divorce laws apply to military divorce. State laws also apply to the distribution of marital property, with some notable exceptions for military benefits. The residency requirements for a military service member or the spouse of a service member to file for divorce are similar for anyone seeking a divorce here:

  • The service member or spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months
  • The service member or spouse must be stationed or under government orders to live in the state of North Carolina

Military bases located in North Carolina

  • Camp Lejeune
  • Cherry Point
  • Fort Bragg
  • New River Air Station
  • Pope Air Force Base
  • Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

How are military and traditional divorce different?

In order to address the challenges and difficulties service members face in divorce and family law issues, the government has enacted several state and federal laws. One of these laws is “jurisdiction for divorce,” which allows military spouses stationed in North Carolina to initiate divorce proceedings within the state.

Other divorce legislation beneficial to military families includes:

  • UCCJEA. Although the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act wasn’t designed specifically for military families, this federal law provides clarification over which state courts have jurisdiction over child custody matters for parents who frequently move. This law prevents competing and contradictory child custody orders from each parent in different states.
  • SCRA. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act prevents active duty service members from being held in contempt or default if divorce, child support or spousal support actions are brought against them while they are away or unreachable on deployment.
  • USFSPA. State law generally presides over property division in both military and traditional divorce. However, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act decides the division of military retirement benefits during a divorce.

Our Charlotte military divorce attorneys are proud to help service members through this difficult time in their lives. We understand both family and military law matters, and can answer your questions to help make this process easier on you and your family.

Can I serve divorce papers on my military spouse when they’re deployed?

Divorce documents must be served to your spouse, in person, whether they’re right on base, deployed across the country, overseas, or even at the bottom of the ocean. And, they must acknowledge receipt of the documents. We understand that, often, this can be difficult and sometimes impossible. In some cases, our attorneys can work with the court to appoint someone eligible overseas to serve the papers.

However, in other cases, this may be an impossibility due to the nature of military work and international treaties. This can require a great deal of complicated paperwork and procedures. A skilled and experienced military divorce lawyer can assist you with this critical process.

Remember that the SCRA protects service members from being held in contempt if actions are brought against them while they are deployed and unreachable. Our attorneys can answer any of your questions and concerns.

Does my ex-spouse have a right to my Charlotte military pension?

Service members are eligible for a military pension after 20 years of service, and typically an ex-spouse will have a right to a portion of this benefit during division of property. Unlike traditional retirement accounts and savings plans, however, military pensions are handled a little bit differently.

The United States government handles the division of your pension in the event of a divorce when:

  • You and your spouse were married at least 10 years
  • At 10 of those years overlapped with military service

This is called the 10/10 rule. When those conditions are met, the government will automatically send your ex-spouse a portion of your military retirement payments each month. If your marriage didn’t meet those criteria, the automatic payments won’t occur. The court may still order you to pay your ex-spouse part of your pension, but you will be responsible for making the payments directly.

My military ex-spouse isn’t fulfilling their child support obligations. How can I enforce it?

In the event your ex-spouse has stopped or is refusing to pay spousal or child support, you may send a written letter and complain to their commanding officer requesting enforcement of the court order. A commander may investigate the matter and punish the service member, but cannot enforce previously unpaid support without a court order. Your Charlotte divorce attorney can explain this process to you further.

Can I keep my military health insurance after divorcing my military spouse?

There are several factors that determine the answer, but generally, military health coverage works under the 20/20/20 rule – 20 years married, 20 years of service and 20 years overlap. If all of these conditions are met, then you’ll be able to keep your health insurance post-divorce.

If you don’t meet the 20/20/20 rule, you may have access to temporary coverage only or none at all. Unfortunately, only the government can make this decision and not your spouse.

Knowledgeable Charlotte military divorce attorneys

With years of experience in military legal matters, the divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC are uniquely suited to assist you with your military divorce or family law issues. Our legal team understands the complex needs of service members and spouses, and can help navigate you confidently through your case. We’re right off the NC-16 on Sikes Place. To reserve a consultation at one of our offices in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.

 

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