Military Divorce Attorneys in Manhattan, Kansas

Jurisdiction and other issues for divorce are subject to state law. When a spouse is in the military, stationed stateside or abroad, federal and state laws are a factor in divorce. That makes a military divorce more complicated.

If you or your spouse is in the military and you are considering divorce or have been served with divorce papers, you must consult with our family law attorneys. Otherwise, you risk unfair treatment simply because your lawyer was unaware of the demands of military divorce.

We not only represent clients in military divorces at Oleen Law Firm, but we also understand how the military works. We serve clients in Manhattan, Kansas, Junction City, and those with a relationship with military bases in the state.

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Which State Should the Divorce Be Filed In?

For a court to hear any case, including divorce, it must have jurisdiction to do so. In Kansas, one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least 60 days to be eligible to file for divorce in the appropriate Kansas court. If someone in the military is in Kansas for at least 60 days, they may file for divorce in Kansas as well. The 60-day requirement establishes legal residency, and if either spouse has legal residency in Kansas, no matter where the other spouse is at the time, a divorce can be filed in the state.

One of the added issues of military divorce is the division of military pension. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act allows the state with jurisdiction in the divorce to dictate whether the pension is treated as the separate property of the service member or as marital property. Kansas views the pension as marital property and is subject to awarding a percentage of the pension to the non-military spouse.

How Does the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Affect Divorce?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects service members from civil court cases and administrative actions from proceeding when they are unable to be present, for example, if they are deployed overseas or stationed in a state other than where the divorce is filed.

If served with divorce papers, a service member cannot simply ignore them. The Act allows the service member’s attorney to request a “stay” with the court to provide additional time to respond to the case. If circumstances continue to hamper the service member's ability to participate, their attorney can request additional stays; however, it is strictly up to the court whether it is granted.

The court can appoint counsel to represent the service member in their absence. It is wise for the service member to retain a local family law attorney to represent them.

How Is Access to the Military Pension Handled?

Spouses can agree to a division of the pension and submit it to the court for approval. Otherwise, the court will decide the issue. The longer the marriage was and the longer it overlapped with the years of military service, the larger the percentage will be.

The Kansas court can award benefits from the military pension, even if the marriage lasted less than ten years. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) determines how payments from the military pension are paid to the non-military spouse. If the marriage lasted for at least ten years and overlapped with military service for at least ten years, referred to as the “10/10 rule,” payments from the pension will be made directly from the military’s retired pay center to the recipient spouse. If the 10/10 requirement is not met, any percentage of the pension awarded by the court will be paid by the service member to the former spouse directly.

What Other Measures Does the USFSPA Provide?

To garner benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, the former spouse must remain unmarried. All benefits cease upon the former spouse’s remarriage.

In addition to access to the military pension, unmarried former spouses retain eligibility for medical, exchange, and commissary privileges so long as they meet the 20/20/20 rule. Under this requirement, the marriage must have lasted 20 years or more, the service person must have at least 20 years of service, and the marriage and service must have overlapped for at least 20 years. If the overlap is 15 to 19 years, or 20/20/15, the former spouse may qualify for transitional benefits.

What About a Divorce When Stationed Overseas?

To ensure recognition of your divorce and all relevant agreements, it should be filed in the United States, in the state where one spouse can establish legal residency. If you are both living abroad at the time, you may decide to wait to file for divorce until you return to the U.S. If not, the process of divorce overseas is more complicated.

The military does provide an Early Return of Dependents program, which may qualify the spouse and children of the service member to return home at the expense of the government before the service member’s tour of duty ends.

If the family returns to the U.S. while the service member is still deployed overseas, it can affect child custody and visitation agreements. If the service member has primary physical custody, the other parent should have the children when the service member is unavailable to care for them. If the other spouse has primary custody and returns to the U.S., the visitation schedule should accommodate the service member’s leave schedule and provide virtual communication with the children.

Military Divorce Attorneys Serving Manhattan, Kansas

Although Judge Advocate Generals (JAG) attorneys can assist a service member with divorce paperwork, they cannot represent them. The service member needs to retain private family law attorneys like Oleen Law Firm, who have the experience to represent clients in military divorces. We have been helping clients for a combined 50 years in Manhattan, Kansas. We also serve clients in Junction City and those with a relationship with military bases in the state. Call us to schedule a consultation.