Unsurprisingly, a significant portion of our e-mail consists of questions concerning military separation and divorce. Military domestic situations can be confusing because they are governed by a mixed hodgepodge of military regulations, state divorce laws and procedures, as well as Federal statutes.
In this multi-part article, we'll try and make a little bit of sense out of the confusion. In the coming weeks, I'll attempt to cover all of the various aspects of a military-related divore or separation situation, including the "rights" of the military member and family members, military family housing, spousal & child support, Protection Act, Soldiers & Sailors Civil Relief Act, domestic violence situations, garnishments, divorce jurisdiction, attorneys, and more.
Overall, it's important to realize that the military considers divorce and separation to be a private civil matter, best resolved by the courts. Sometimes military spouses expect too much out of military authorities. They think they can contact their spouse's commander, and the commander will waive a magic wand and make everything better. In most cases, that's unrealistic - just as it would be unrealistic to expect the manager at K-Mart to become involved in your marriage situation, should your spouse work there. The commander has limited authority in the area of divorce & separation. The military only becomes involved in domestic situations in very limited, specific ways -- procedures which are authorized under law or military regulation ---- usually when it concerns pay, benefits, property, etc., which are regulated by federal law. In a vast majority of military domestic situations, the correct procedure is to obtain an attorney, and take it to court -- just like everyone else in the United States has to do.