Chicago Military Divorce Attorneys
When considering a divorce, especially when one or both individuals involved are members of the Armed Services, it is important to speak with a dedicated military divorce attorney who understands the complexities involved. With more than 30 years of trial experience, the experienced Chicago divorce attorneys at Nottage and Ward, LLP, have seen it all and are well-versed in every possible contingency. Whether you are military service member or married to someone who is, our team will confidently represent your stake in the separation and fiercely defend your interests every step of the way. We will provide a distinct clarity during this emotionally exhausting time and help you fully understand your legal rights, what you should expect financially, and how best to proceed in regards to your children.
For more information about our firm please call (312) 332-2915 or use our online contact form to request a confidential assessment of your case.
Over the past decade, sweeping changes in state and federal laws governing active duty members have altered the legal landscape, giving way to a number of unique issues – especially when it comes to finalizing a military divorce. Soldiers and their families looking to file in Illinois, or anywhere else in the country for that matter, will encounter some, if not all, of the following:
Where to File – Above all, deciding what state will have jurisdiction over your divorce can have the greatest impact on your future settlement. Quite often, military service members and their spouses will agree to file where they are currently stationed, which could be substantially farther from where they pay taxes, where they claim residency, or where they were actually married. For soldiers, this is all regulated under the recently overhauled Service Members Civil Relief Act (SMCRA). Keep in mind however, each state has different rules concerning how and when to file, so be sure the state you agree upon is one that works to your advantage when it comes to the settlement.
Retirement – A military benefit package can be one of the largest assets in a divorce proceeding. It is important to note that while the retirement of any member of the military is subject to division during a separation this does not make it an automatic 50/50 split. Under the Uniformed Service Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), state courts are granted authority to treat any retirement package from the Armed Services in much the same way they would a civilian pension. The division is subject to a number of factors, including federal and state codes as well as a thorough examination of the relationship and family dynamic.
Child Allocation – Allocation of parenting time and responsibilities is without a doubt the most fiercely contested portion of any settlement. When one or more of the individuals involved are active service members and deployed overseas, this can become highly contentious. There are a multitude of critical factors to consider, many of which fall under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) – a highly detailed piece of legal work that we highly recommend speaking with a qualified attorney about.
Q: What are the differences between a military and a civilian divorce?
A: In the strict legal sense, there is no difference between military personnel seeking a divorce and non-military personnel doing the same. The legal requirements for a divorce are the same; however, the divorce process can be much more complicated, confusing, and expensive when one or both spouses are members of the military.
For instance, one factor that is pertinent in an Illinois military divorce is that at least one of the spouses must have been a legal resident of Illinois for the past ninety days or more. Residency can be a tricky issue for members of the military, who are frequently relocated and must serve long tenures abroad.
Q: Is it possible to serve divorce papers to a spouse stationed overseas?
A: According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5), any defendant in a lawsuit must be notified of pending legal action. This includes your spouse if you are filing for divorce. Even if your spouse is serving overseas, he or she still must be served with the divorce papers. The first step will be to contact the authorities at the base where your spouse is stationed, and determine what official channels can be used to serve divorce papers.
Of special note, you should be aware that the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, 50 UCS section 521, protects active service members from being found in default for failing to respond to a legal action. This means that your Illinois state divorce proceedings can be delayed until 60 days after your spouse completes his or her tour of duty.
Q: How do I calculate my spouse’s military benefits as part of a divorce proceeding?
A: Federal law, under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), stipulates how military benefits are dispersed during a divorce. Any alimony payment must be authorized by the USFSPA. This law also requires spouses to be married for at least 10 years of active duty in order for a spouse to receive retirement benefits as part of a divorce settlement. You should take this timeline into consideration when filing for divorce.
Q: Are their special provisions for allocation of parental duties when one or both parents are active in the military?
A: As for allocation of parenting responsibilities, it is extremely important that you work out a clear parenting time schedule, as well as contingency plans in the event of an emergency. Who will have the child while one spouse is on military duty, and how will parenting time be divided when that spouse returns? These questions need to be asked and answered. The court recognizes that military deployment can have an adverse effect on children, but they also understand that it should not preclude a military parent from being awarded allocation.
Like everything else associated with a military divorce, allocation issues can be quite complicated. That’s why it’s important to get advice from an experienced Illinois military divorce lawyer.
At Nottage and Ward, LLP, when it comes to spousal separation, we pride ourselves on delivering in-depth legal counsel, compassionate representation, and fearless litigation. If you have any questions concerning our process or options concerning your own divorce, please contact us at (312) 332-2915.
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- Legislation Proposed To Prevent U.S. Military Members From Losing Child Due To Service And Deployment
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Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for
Leslie has been the strongest representation I could ask for in a very complicated, emotional matter. She has continuously looked out for my best interest and the best interest of my son. She is always prompt in getting back to me and in keeping me well informed about my case.
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