Divorce can be a complicated journey, and when it involves active-duty military personnel, things can get even more intricate. Take Colorado, for instance, with its significant military presence and notable bases like Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base, there’s a whole new level of complexity to consider. That’s why it’s crucial to dive deep into the world of military divorce in the Centennial State. This comprehensive guide is here to shed light on the subject, drawing insights from a variety of reliable sources, so you can navigate through this challenging process with confidence and clarity.
Overview of Military Divorce in Colorado
Before we dive into the specifics, let’s take a quick overview of what military divorce entails in Colorado. Firstly, it’s essential to note that Colorado follows equitable distribution laws for property division, meaning that assets and liabilities are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. However, military pensions may be treated differently under federal law. Secondly, since Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, neither party has to prove any wrongdoing to file for divorce. Additionally, military divorces often involve other unique considerations such as child custody arrangements, spousal support (also known as maintenance or alimony), and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Let’s explore these further.
Child Custody Considerations for Military Divorces in Colorado
When it comes to child custody arrangements, the court’s primary consideration is always the best interest of the child. However, in military divorces, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account. For instance, if one parent is on active duty and frequently relocates due to deployments or permanent change of station (PCS) orders, it can significantly impact the child’s stability and relationship with that parent. In such cases, the court may consider granting temporary custody to the other parent or establishing a long-distance visitation plan. Furthermore, military parents must also factor in the possibility of future deployments when creating a parenting plan. It’s crucial to have open communication and flexibility to ensure both parents can maintain a relationship with their child.
Spousal Support in Military Divorces
In Colorado, spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony, is typically awarded to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a similar standard of living after the divorce. However, in military divorces, there are additional considerations that may impact spousal support calculations . For instance, if a service member is on active duty and receives combat pay or hazardous duty pay, that income may not be included in the calculation of spousal support. Additionally, if a former spouse remarries, their eligibility for continued spousal support may terminate under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA).
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides protection for military members facing legal action, including divorce proceedings. Under the SCRA, active duty service members can request a stay or postponement of court proceedings while they are deployed or unable to attend due to military service obligations. This allows them time to focus on their duties without the added stress of divorce proceedings. Additionally, the SCRA prohibits courts from entering default judgments against service members who are unable to appear in court due to military service.
Why Military Divorces in Colorado Are Different
Military divorces are governed by both federal laws and the laws of the state where the service member’s spouse resides. While the primary considerations of divorce – such as asset distribution, child custody, and spousal support – remain consistent, they’re approached in military divorces can differ.
Jurisdiction and Filing in Colorado
For a military divorce to be filed in Colorado, specific residency or stationing requirements must be met. The state allows a spouse to file for divorce if the military member is stationed in Colorado or if they have continuously resided in the state for at least 90 days.
Service of Process and Deployed Spouses
Ensuring a deployed spouse receives divorce papers can be a challenge. Fortunately, federal laws like the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act offer protections, allowing for the postponement of the divorce proceeding until the active-duty spouse returns.
Division of Military Pensions and Benefits
Military pensions, governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), are one of the most contested aspects of military divorces. Colorado courts treat military pensions as marital property, dividing them equitably between spouses.
Example: Consider a military officer with 20 years of service, married for 15 of those years. In Colorado, the non-military spouse might be entitled to a share of the pension earned during those 15 years of marriage.
Benefits After Divorce for Military Spouses
The type and duration of benefits a former military spouse might receive (like health care) often depend on the length of the marriage and the service member’s time in active duty.
Legal Protections for Military Members
The Service Members Civil Relief Act ensures active-duty military members are not disadvantaged by legal proceedings while they’re deployed, potentially staying in divorce proceedings in their absence.
Choosing the Right Attorney for Your Military Divorce
With the complexities of military divorce in Colorado, having an attorney who understands both military culture and legalities is crucial.
Common Misconceptions About Military Divorce
One prevailing myth is that military pensions are solely the property of the service member. In truth, they are often treated as marital property to be equitably divided between spouses.
Military divorces in Colorado are multifaceted, demanding a thorough understanding of both state and federal laws. For Colorado’s service members and their spouses, knowledge is the key to navigating these waters smoothly. It’s essential to seek out an attorney for your military divorce case to ensure that your rights are protected, and you receive the best possible outcome. Additionally, seeking support from resources such as the Armed Services Legal Assistance Program can provide valuable information and guidance throughout the process. With careful planning and advice, military divorces in Colorado can be resolved fairly and efficiently for all parties
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Can a military spouse retain base privileges after a divorce?
Q: Do military pensions get divided in a divorce?
Q: How does the length of the marriage affect a military divorce?
Q: What is the role of the Service Members Civil Relief Act in a military divorce?
Q: How does a military divorce differ from a civilian divorce?
Speak With a Trusted Attorney
Facing a military divorce? Don’t navigate these turbulent waters alone. Consult with a seasoned family law attorney from Petrelli Previtera to discuss your case, ensuring your rights are protected every step of the way. Book Your Consultation Today.