While military divorces in New Jersey follow the same general procedure as civilian divorces, there are unique legal considerations and protections for military members and their spouses. Let’s delve into these specific aspects:
Jurisdiction and Residency
For a New Jersey court to have jurisdiction over a divorce, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least a year. For military members, residency can be complex. They can file for divorce in the state where the military member is stationed, the state where the military member claims residency, or the state where the non-military spouse resides.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
The SCRA protects active-duty military members from being held in “default” if they fail to respond to a divorce action. It allows for a stay or postponement of legal proceedings if their duties prevent them from participating. This stay is generally for at least 90 days but can be extended.
Military Pensions and Benefits
Military pensions are subject to division between spouses in a divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) governs how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided upon divorce. The USFSPA also provides a method for enforcing alimony, child support, and division of property orders.
Health Care Benefits
Under the 20/20/20 rule, a former spouse can retain full military medical benefits if the couple was married for at least 20 years, the military member has at least 20 years of service, and there is an overlap of at least 20 years between the marriage and the military service.
Child Custody and Support
Child custody and support issues can be complicated in military divorces due to deployment or PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders. New Jersey courts will consider the best interests of the child, and a military parent’s deployment or potential deployment cannot be the sole factor in determining custody.
In sum, military divorces in New Jersey involve a blend of state and federal laws. It’s crucial to engage an attorney who is knowledgeable about the unique aspects of military divorces to ensure your rights and interests are well protected.
If you or someone you know has a question regarding their military divorce, contact the Williams Law Group, at (908) 810-1083, today to learn more about how we can assist you.