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How Are Military Divorces Handled in New Jersey?

Military divorces are different from civilian divorces and can come with unique challenges. Two of the main reasons are the constant moving around to different locations and property division. Child custody and support payments are other areas that must be addressed, often with legal help.

If your spouse is a servicemember, you will need their consent to file for divorce plus their signature on a defendant’s affidavit of consent. There are different options for filing, depending on the location of the legal residence or station. In New Jersey, military personnel can file for divorce wherever they are stationed, even when they are not state residents. The three options for filing locations are:

  • The state where the military member is stationed.
  • The state where the spouse lives.
  • The servicemember’s state of residence.

New Jersey retains jurisdiction for the divorce unless one of the parties files to have it transferred. When hearings come up, courts realize that servicemembers may be unavailable when on active duty in other locations. When servicemembers cannot participate in person, they may be able to do so via telephone. Otherwise, the court can choose to stay the proceedings until the servicemember can participate. It is possible for spouses to get temporary support from servicemembers who are away on active duty.

What About Child Support?

The military strictly enforces child support, and failing to pay these orders is a crime; criminal charges are levied when military members do not pay their obligations. Enforcing this can be problematic since each military branch has different rules that must be followed. Local family courts can help spouses pursue non-paying ex-partners, and this is often done through wage garnishments.

The military does not always need to step in with these cases because NJ courts will calculate child support awards by examining the parents’ income tax returns, W-2s, and pay stubs. The servicemember’s Leave and Earnings Statement will also provide important information because it includes details about additional earnings.

How Is Property Division Handled in New Jersey Military Divorces?

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) may be the determining factor for property division if you or your spouse is an active military member. This analyzes base privileges, like health care coverage and other benefits, commissary and exchange, and military retirement pay.

Under the USFSPA, a former spouse does not automatically get a portion of the servicemember’s retirement pay, and there are specified requirements to qualify. Military disability retirement benefits are not distributed to ex-spouses though. It is not unusual for an ex-spouse to attempt to change their military retirement benefits into disability compensation, and this can complicate things further. A divorce lawyer who is experienced with military couples can be your best resource.

Marlton Divorce Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Offer Legal Guidance to Divorcing Military Couples

Military divorces can be more complex than others, but you do not have to go through one alone. Contact our Marlton divorce lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. today. Complete our online form or call us at 856-890-9400 to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, and Gloucester County.

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