Every divorce is unique, and this is also true of divorces when one or both spouses are in the military. If you or your spouse are serving and you are planning on getting a divorce, here are some answers to some common questions you may have.
For answers to questions specifically related to your personal situation, contact an attorney experienced in family law in Santa Fe for help. An attorney will be able to review your case and offer you guidance and a realistic assessment of your situation.
Can the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Office Handle the Divorce?
Although the JAG office can offer you some general information, they cannot represent you in a New Mexico divorce case. You will need to retain an attorney on your own to protect your interests and to receive legal advice that is tailored to the unique factors in your divorce.
When Can You File for a Military Divorce in New Mexico?
You can file for a military divorce in New Mexico if any of the statements below apply to you.
- The military spouse has been stationed in New Mexico for a continuous period of six months or more.
- The civilian spouse has lived in New Mexico for at least six months in a row prior to the filing.
- The military spouse is stationed outside of New Mexico but lived in New Mexico for at least six months right before entering the military and intends to return to and live in the state.
Keep in mind that if the military spouse is on active duty in another country, they can still be served with divorce papers, but it may be difficult to locate them and do it properly. The laws surrounding service in that country need to be considered as well. Your attorney will assist you with locating your spouse, completing the paperwork and meeting all the legal requirements in your case.
Does the Services Members Civil Relief Act Impact a Divorce Case?
Under the Services Members Civil Relief Act, the military spouse has legal protections when their service affects their ability to respond to legal actions, such as a divorce, being filed. This includes a stay, which may pause the divorce case, or even a suspension of the divorce for a set number of days. If you are concerned about how this Act may impact your divorce case, discuss it with your attorney.
The delay granted by the Act is meant to give the military member extra time to respond to divorce and prepare for a trial. This act also protects a military spouse from having a default divorce entered, which is a divorce that is granted based on the filing spouse’s request when the other party fails to respond. It does not, however, protect military members from consequences for not paying child support.
Do You Need Your Own Private Attorney?
Generally speaking, it is wise to retain your own attorney for your military divorce. If you are a spouse of a military member, you may not receive everything you are entitled to if you try to handle the divorce on your own. For example, under federal law, some spouses who divorce military members may receive medical, commissary and other privileges.
For the spouse who is in the military, an attorney can provide assistance and help coordinate when the military spouse is on active service. An attorney can also provide valuable guidance and advice to both military and civilian spouses throughout the divorce.