Multiple military bases and U.S. Army National Guard installations are located in California’s Inland Empire. As a result, California has one of the highest percentages of active duty and retired military personnel in the country. If you serve on active duty in the Inland Empire and you would like to file for divorce, or you’ve been served with a divorce petition, you need an experienced military divorce lawyer on your side.
At the Law Offices of Ronald L. Freeman, we understand that military families face unique situations and considerable stress that can lead to legal separation or divorce. Attorney Ronald L. Freeman has extensive experience and in-depth knowledge regarding military divorces and child custody issues involving active-duty military personnel. Contact the Law Offices of Ronald L. Freeman today to schedule your initial consultation to learn more about how he can answer any questions you have and represent your best interests during the divorce process.
Filing for a Military Divorce in the Inland Empire
Military families often wonder where they should file for divorce, especially if they are in the middle of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) military move or anticipate a PCS shortly. In most cases, the spouse petition for divorce should file for a divorce in the state where the husband or wife has legal residence. The spouse initiating divorce should file in the state where he or she lives. As long as you are filing in the state that is the legal residence of you or your spouse, the court will have jurisdiction.
Divorce and Deployment
What happens if your spouse has filed for divorce before or during a military deployment? Military members can petition the court for a “stay of proceedings” under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. A stay of proceedings will stop the divorce proceedings until the active-duty military member has returned to the United States from deployment.
On the other hand, if you would like the divorce to proceed during your deployment, attorney Ronald L. Freeman may be able to handle your court appearances in California for you. Typically, you will be required to make occasional appearances through an in-court phone conference while stationed outside the United States. Military families have several options for which jurisdiction in which to file for divorce, including:
- The state in which the military service member claims legal residence
- The state where the non-military spouse claims legal residence, or
- The state where the military service number is currently stationed
If you are unsure where to file your divorce petition, attorney Ronald L. Freeman will review the facts of your case and advise you of the best jurisdiction in which to file. If you’ve been served with a divorce petition after filing in a court that doesn’t have jurisdiction, he can help you challenge the petition.
Child Custody And Support for Active Duty Service Members
Typically, child support payments are determined under state law and based on the total entitlements of the service member. The court will consider the service member’s base pay, Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), and any other additional pay, such as combat pay. Once the court determines the service members’ total income and the spouse’s income and expenses, they will determine how much child support to award.
Typically, once a court sets the child support amount, only the court can change it. A parent can petition the court to modify the child support amount. Still, the parents seeking a modification will need to show that a material change has occurred and that changing the amount is in the child’s best interest.
Attorney Ronald L. Freeman understands the unique aspects of military pay. He will help the court understand the elements involved in a service member’s income and the potential for these amounts to change based on transfers, deployments, and other factors. Most courts use a totality of circumstances to determine which parent should have legal custody. Just because one parent is an active-duty service member does not mean he or she should not have legal custody of the children. He advocates for the best possible outcomes regarding child support and child custody matters in military divorces.
Division of Military Pensions and Property
The division of property for military families presents unique challenges. Under the federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) of 1982, the state in which the military member legally resides has the jurisdiction, or power, to divide the military pension during a divorce.
When a marriage lasts 20 years or more, overlapping with one of the spouse’s 20 years or more of military service, the non-military spouse will be entitled to a portion of the service member’s pension, retirement payments, and other benefits.
Health Care Coverage After a Military Divorce
Many non-military spouses are concerned about losing their health care coverage after their divorce. There are two possible options for the non-military spouse after the divorce. First, the spouse can opt for no-cost health insurance coverage under TRICARE, but only if the marriage lasted for at least 20 years during the service member’s active service. Otherwise, the non-military spouse can choose to buy conversion health coverage if they don’t qualify for TRICARE independently. This type of coverage is called the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP).
Consult a Military Divorce Lawyer in San Bernardino and Riverside
Going through a divorce is always challenging, but military families face a unique set of challenges. Attorney Ronald L. Freeman will skillfully represent you throughout the divorce process, finding out what you need and using his skill and experience to advocate strongly on your behalf. As a military divorce lawyer in the Inland Empire, he is known for compassion with clients and aggressive representation in the courtroom. Contact him today to learn more about how he can answer your questions and represent you during your military divorce.