Divorce can be complicated, especially for active military personnel. In Colorado, like in other states, military members are afforded certain legal protections and considerations in divorce proceedings. This article aims to elucidate these special rights under both federal and state laws.
Legal Protections Under Federal Law
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Overview: The SCRA is a federal law that provides protections for active-duty military members in civil legal matters, including divorce.
Key Provisions: One of the primary provisions of the SCRA is the ability to request a stay or postponement of court proceedings if military service affects the member’s ability to participate. This is to ensure that active duty does not unfairly hinder a service member’s legal rights.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA)
Overview: The USFSPA addresses the issue of military retirement benefits in divorce proceedings.
Key Provisions: Under the USFSPA, military retirement benefits are treated as property, not income, and can be divided as part of the marital estate. The act stipulates that for a former spouse to receive direct payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the couple’s marriage must have overlapped with 10 years of military service.
Colorado State Laws and Military Divorce
Residency and Filing Requirements
Colorado law allows military personnel stationed in the state to file for divorce in Colorado, even if they are not permanent residents. This can be crucial for service members deployed away from their home state.
Division of Military Benefits
In Colorado, the division of military retirement benefits is subject to state property division laws. The state considers the length of the marriage and the overlap with the service member’s military career when dividing these assets.
Child Custody and Visitation
Military divorce in Colorado also involves unique challenges regarding child custody and visitation. The state’s courts consider the nature of military service, including deployments and reassignments, when making custody determinations.
Child and Spousal Support
In determining child and spousal support, Colorado courts take into account all military pay and allowances. However, fluctuations in income due to deployment or changes in duty status can complicate these determinations.
Special Considerations for Military Divorce
It is advisable for military personnel and their spouses to seek attorneys who are well-versed in military divorce issues. This includes understanding both military benefits and Colorado state law.
Protecting Military Benefits
Strategic considerations must be made to protect military benefits during the divorce process. This includes understanding how benefits are classified and divided under Colorado law.
Custody and Deployment
Creating custody arrangements that can accommodate the unique demands of military life, such as deployments and relocations, is another critical aspect. Legal frameworks are in place to ensure these arrangements serve the best interests of the children involved.
Divorce involving active military personnel in Colorado requires navigating a complex interplay of federal laws and state statutes. Understanding these special rights and protections is vital for a fair and equitable resolution in divorce proceedings.