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The challenges of divorce mediation involving servicemembers

Unique complexities exist in military divorces. Certain legal issues are specific to servicemembers and their spouses. Even divorce mediation presents challenges when divorcing couples are not in the same state or country.

A skilled attorney-mediator can help bridge the gap in many ways.

The Filing

While a spouse served with divorce papers must file a formal response within a set amount of days, another federal law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), allows an active duty servicemember to put the divorce on hold. While the performance of military duties will stay the divorce for at least 90 days and longer if needed, the process must move along at some point. Delays cannot last forever.

Military Pension Division

Division of pensions is governed by Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA). The federal law mandates that the state where the service member resides has authority to divide military pensions, unless they consent to give power to another state's court.

The "10-10 test" triggers pension garnishment when a marriage lasted for 10 years while the military spouse was on active duty or "creditable service" in the Guard or Reserves for an equal amount of time. Even if that standard is not met, the state court can still award division. Some spouses close to qualifying for the test may even delay a divorce action.

Child Support

Various elements surround a servicemember's income with changes occurring due to deployment base transfers and other factors. While child support is determined by the state where the servicemember resides, the courts may not adhere to support guidelines due to specific military rules.

Servicemembers are required to provide adequate support for their children. Prior to a final court ruling on support, they can secure financial assistance directly from their military branch. Once that step is finalized, civilian courts can make their own decisions based on state law.

Divorce Mediation In Separate Locations

As with any type of divorce mediation, military marital dissolutions can enjoy the same benefits as a civilian action. Oftentimes, distances created by serving on an out-of-state base or being deployed overseas prevent face-to-face negotiations. Skype, Facetime and other forms of video technology can be used effectively by a skilled attorney-mediator.

Cutting-edge innovation can not only bridge the physical gap, but also the emotional expanse suffered by spouses who want to get on with their lives.

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