On behalf of Tasha K. Schaffner of Schaffner Family Law posted in divorce on Tuesday, May 16, 2017.
The simple answer is not much. A Kentucky service member’s divorce and separation are considered private, civil matters. For this reason, a commanding officer and attorneys with the Judge Advocate General’s office do not have much involvement, if any, in a military divorce. The main involvement the military has in a divorce surrounds benefits, pay and property.
Many Kentucky service members mistakenly believe that JAG can help with a divorce. A JAG attorney may provide some general advice, but nothing more. Service members are encouraged to obtain civilian counsel to represent them in family matters such as a divorce.
However, any civilian attorney chosen will need to be knowledgeable in the unique aspects of a military divorce. Federal and state laws, along with military regulations, come into play. For example, a service member or dependents might have rights under laws such as the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act or the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Certain steps must also be taken in order to garnish a service members pay for child support, spousal support or other reasons. Without knowledge of these laws, a family member or service member could lose out on important rights and benefits.
Going through a divorce can be complex enough, but when it is a military divorce, the issues facing the parties can quickly become even more of a challenge. Those challenges can be overcome, and the parties may still negotiate their own settlement, but they must still ensure that any agreement reached complies with the laws and regulations at each level. For this reason alone, involving a military divorce attorney could prove invaluable.