Filing for divorce while one or both partners are in the military can be uniquely challenging. Whether you're a civilian with a military spouse or a military service member who wants to file for divorce, knowing what to expect from your case can help you identify and pursue the best outcome.
To schedule a consultation with one of our military divorce attorneys, contact us online or via phone at (719) 212-4227.
Filing for Military Divorce in CO
One of the first questions many service members (or military spouses) have is where they should file for divorce. To file for divorce in Colorado, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for 90 days. For service members, that means having a Leave and Earning Statement (LES) designating Colorado as their legal residence.
Other forms of identification establishing Colorado as a place of residence, such as voter registration or a Colorado driver's license, may also be required. Being stationed in Colorado alone is not enough to file for a military divorce in the state.
Can I a Spouse on Duty or Deployment Be Served with Divorce Papers?
In many ways, military divorces are like civilian divorces. One party, acting as the petitioner, serves the other party (the respondent) with divorce papers using a third party.
However, things change when the spouse in service is on active duty or deployed. The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows military members to postpone or suspend the need to respond to certain civil obligations while in the field. The SCRA is designed to ensure that military members don't have to worry about certain facets of civilian life, such as debts or an impending divorce, when they need to be at their best in the field.
If a service member wishes to contest a divorce, they can use the SCRA to postpone divorce proceedings until up to 60 days after returning from active deployment. However, if a service member doesn't wish to contest a divorce, they can simply acquiesce to the divorce, effectively ignoring the protections provided by the SCRA.
What Else is Different About a Military Divorce?
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse's Protection Act (USFSPA) enables military ex-spouses to claim a share of a service member's retirement pay. Importantly, only pension earned at the time of the divorce will be considered a potential marital asset - future promotions or service extensions are not taken into account when determining how much of a service member's retirement pay a military spouse is entitled to.
Additionally, all items on a service member's LES are considered income for the purpose of distributing marital assets. In other words, LES-related costs or payments can be considered marital property and distributed as such.
Depending on the circumstances of the divorce, service members may experience a change in their Basic Allowance for Subsistence and Housing (BAS and BAH) allowances. Many service members receive less BAS and BAH post-divorce, although they can ask for the military to take child support payments into account when determining how much BAS or BAH is appropriate.
If a service member fails to acquiesce with court orders, such as child support payments, the court may be able to withdraw said payments directly from their military pay to compensate the appropriate party.
At the Law Office of Greg Quimby, P.C., we're dedicated to helping service members find and seek the best outcome in divorce cases. To schedule a consultation with an experienced military divorce attorney, contact us online or via phone at (719) 212-4227.