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How Military Service Can Complicate a Divorce

How Military Service Can Complicate a Divorce
February 22, 2016 Shannon Dawes

Military service is an honorable profession fraught with difficulties and dangers. Not all of these difficulties are to be found on the battlefield, however, and not all dangers threaten service members’ physical wellbeing. A service member who is in the military and who either files for divorce or is served with a divorce petition is in an especially vulnerable position. His or her rights to be heard on a divorce petition may be in jeopardy as well as his or her custody rights. Because military service can complicate an already-confusing process, retaining a knowledgeable and assertive Ohio divorce attorney is vital for both parties.

Here are just a few of the ways that military service can throw a proverbial wrench into the normal divorce process in Ohio:

  • Serving and securing the presence of a service member who is deployed overseas: Federal law gives deployed service members the opportunity to have certain legal proceedings postponed while they are deployed. In the case where one spouse is a member of the military and the other is not, this can mean a divorce proceeding filed by the civilian spouse would be placed “on hold” (the legal term is “stayed”) until the service member returns from his or her deployment and can attend hearings.
  • Child custody and visitation for active-duty service members: While child custody and visitation are ultimately decided based on what the court feels is in the child’s best interests, the parents’ work schedules and availability, coupled with the child’s age, factor heavily into its decisions. A parent who is on active-duty, who is subject to regular moves and relocations and who may be deployed for months or years may have a difficult time convincing a judge to allow him or her to be named the custodial parent. The deployment and relocation schedule of the service member may also make arranging for regular visitation problematic.
  • Obtaining support payments from a service member: If child or spousal support is not being paid voluntarily, or if there is a question about whether the service member-parent is willing or able to make regular and consistent payments, it may become necessary to issue a court order to the military’s personnel department to have the service member’s obligations withheld from his or her paycheck. Because of the size of the military specifically and the federal government in general, it can be confusing for a civilian spouse to know where he or she needs to send the garnishment order and what forms need to accompany the order.

At Dawes Legal, LLC, I take pride in being able to simply legal concepts and proceedings for my clients and remove some of the fear and anxiety that come from not knowing what to expect in a particular situation or legal matter. Although a divorce involving a military member can be complicated, my experience and knowledge enable me to help you navigate these tricky legal waters efficiently. Contact Dawes Legal, LLC at (614) 733- 9999 and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your legal issues and concerns.