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How Arkansas civilian and military divorces differ

Heartaches and hard feelings attached to the end of a marriage are fairly universal. However, legal processes can differ in the way spouses obtain a divorce. Unlike civilian divorces, military divorces rely on both state and federal military family laws.

Certain conditions are set when Arkansas members of the U.S. military divorce. For one thing, the government doesn't want something as life-altering as a divorce to interfere with active duty. Protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act forbid lawsuits and divorce actions against service members on active duty and returning from active duty for up to 60 days.

State laws dictate how many filing options military couples have when getting a divorce. In some circumstances, divorce petitions can be submitted in the filing spouse's state of residence or in a state where the military spouse legally resides or is stationed. Some states minimize or do not impose residency requirements on military spouses.

States also set the rules for reasons couples use to divorce, the way marital property is divided and child custody and support issues. There is an exception in asset division when it comes to military pensions. State courts must follow the provisions of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act to assign ownership and divide military retirement pay, although the percentage of the pension a non-military ex-spouse receives is decided by the state.

The method of military pension payments to an ex depends upon how long the military couple was married and the length of military service during marriage. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service manages pension payments to former spouses when the couple has a marriage of at least 10 years in combination with a spouse's 10-year military service history.

One set of family laws can be hard to interpret, much less two sets. Attorneys best suited to advise and represent military spouses have extensive knowledge of state and military family rules.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Military Divorce" Aug. 06, 2014

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