Posted On: July 30, 2009

Military Divorce - Protect Your Rights While Deployed

By Teresa A. Drexler
Attorney At Law
The Gasper Law Group

Military deployment or other active duty requirements with the military brings many different challenges. Not only is there the anxiety of leaving friends and family behind but inevitably there are questions and concerns with how your personal affairs will be dealt with in your absence. Many legal issues could arise before or during your deployment. Take John and Katie for example. John and Katie have been married for 5 years and have a child, John Jr. Katie received her active duty orders last month and is now overseas. John now decides he wants a divorce and proceeds to file divorce papers and requests custody of John Jr. What does Katie do?

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Whether you are on Federal active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or other federal agency, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940 (SSCRA) helps protects you from certain civil judgments and liabilities like the example above during your period of active duty. The Act also provides limited protection for dependents of those serving in the military.

The SSCRA takes effect the moment you receive active duty orders. It protects you from high interest rates, default judgments, and other legal rights while on active duty – like a spouse filing for divorce and obtaining custody of a child while you are unaware of any proceedings taking place. Among other things, the SSCRA requires creditors to cap interest rates, tolls time limitations on when you can bring legal action against another, and protects you from eviction and repossession of personal property. The Act can also protect your family and dependents from being evicted from your residence during your active duty period. You should be prepared to show your orders to potential creditors, landlords or other persons who may need proof of your orders before changing any interest rates, payment plans or cancelling a lease.

Now back to John and Katie. Fortunately for Katie, the SSCRA, along with a good attorney, could save the day. John cannot circumvent the legal process simply because Katie is on military leave and unable to respond to any request for divorce or attend related court proceedings. In any case like this, John must first serve Katie with notice of the divorce and request for custody. John could have Katie served while on active duty but this is often difficult to accomplish. Until John serves Katie with the divorce papers, John cannot do anything in this case.

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Posted On: July 30, 2009

Divorce and the Kids - Co-Parenting

By Teresa A. Drexler
Attorney at Law
The Gasper Law Group

Separation and divorce is complicated when children are involved. Emotions run high and often the parties are angry and bitter with one another. It is often difficult to separate frustration with a spouse as a result of divorce and the exhaustion from suddenly becoming a one parent household. Attorney’s can help you get through the legal process resulting in a final divorce. If children are involved, an attorney can aid in preparing appropriate parenting plans and agreements that address issues with the children. However, once parenting plans and schedules are in place and the divorce is final, both parents still have to raise the children. If the children are very young, both parents must continue to deal with one another as it pertains to the children for many years. In many cases parents can resolve issues amicably and cooperatively. Other times the situation is hostile and becomes increasingly hostile as parties grow more impatient with one another. The importance of co-parenting during this time is significant.

Co-parenting involves sharing responsibilities and decision-making with the other parent while maintaining separate households. Co-parenting is successful only if both parents are willing to work at it. If both parents cooperate and help to instill a successful co-parenting environment, it is not only beneficial for the parents but ultimately it is the best situation for the children. Divorce is stressful on children but this stress can be alleviated when parents work together for the benefit of the children.

Children have a great need to feel loved and supported by both parents. When both parents have a healthy co-parenting relationship, the children receive the stability and security they need amidst a stressful divorce. Children can learn valuable life skills from watching parents successfully co-parent. Through positive behavior and example, parents can teach their children accountability, problem solving skills and how to cooperate with others. Parents have a tremendous opportunity to set a great example for their children when they successfully co-parent.

Successful co-parenting begins with a solid parenting plan. Parenting schedules, including pick up and drop off times, must be specific. Parenting plans should address everything from education, medical issues, holiday schedules, finances and decision making guidelines. Flexibility, however, is also key. Parents should be flexible with one another. Life is uncertain and unexpected events are bound to come up. If you are flexible when the other parent needs a change in the parenting plan, chances are the favor is returned. If you choose to be difficult with the other parent it is likely you will receive no favors.

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