May 15, 2013

Military Divorce - Service Relief Act

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By Teresa A. Drexler
Partner and Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

Military servicemembers face a myriad of challenges when they are deployed, in training or otherwise unavailable due to their military responsibilities and commitments. The problem is evident in many divorce and parenting cases where the non-servicemember files for a divorce or for parenting time orders when the military parent is unavailable to participate. In any divorce or parenting case involving a military service member, the application of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) can create a roadblock for either or both parties in resolving such a case. The successful application of the SCRA results in delay. The SCRA allows a servicemember the opportunity to avoid a final hearing in a parenting or divorce case because he or she is unavailable due to their military orders. In order for the court to find a servicemember "unavailable" the applicant must follow procedural court rules and provide specific information to the court regarding their "unavailability". The applicant must provide a letter describing their current military duty requirements and a second letter stating that the applicant’s current military duty prevents the member from appearing in court and properly defending any current legal action. If the application to the court to delay the proceedings is not done properly the request may be denied and the case may move forward with or without the servicemember's presence.

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December 12, 2010

Divorce and your Military Retirement

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

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You’re military or retired military and getting a divorce. What does this mean for your military retirement? Just like many areas of family law the division of military retirement is governed by law but fact intensive. What does this mean? The division of your military retirement will depend on a variety of factors.

First, as the law stands now, the only portion of military retirement that the state court has the authority to divide as property is the portion that is “disposable”. Disposable military retirement is what is left over after such things as a VA disability election and other payments defined by statute.

Second, Colorado courts often divide your disposable military retirement via the “Hunt/Gallo” formula which is named after two very specific Colorado cases. This formula considers the overlapping months of marriage and service and then giving the non-service member spouse a certain percentage of that.

This all sounds simple enough, right? Take your military retirement, get the highest disability rating you can, subtract that from the total amount and your spouse will get less. WRONG! This is a bad idea, the courts are wise, they have developed case law which allows them to look at the timing of the election and take other martial assets to make an equitable division of the property. The court could consider the timing of the election and award other martial assets to your spouse to make up for the portion of the retirement they are not receiving because of the disability election. The court could also award spousal maintenance to your spouse if a need is established.

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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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