A divorce is a stressful and life-altering moment. This is especially so for families with one or both spouses serving in the military.
Military divorces come with a unique set of obstacles to overcome. Child custody and visitation are often the main issues as one of the parents may be deployed for long periods.
However, if both parties work together, they can address each issue amicably and transition to a divorced life smoothly without engaging in a court battle. In fact, over 90% of custody decisions do not require the decision of a family court.
Here are five steps you can take to ensure the divorce does not become messy.
Consult a Military Divorce Lawyer
Going through a divorce is not easy even for the person filing for it. On top of all this uncertainty and stress also comes legal procedures that can make the process more complicated.
As such, it is important to hire a military divorce lawyer. Having a military divorce attorney will relieve you of the burden of trying to figure out the legal ramifications of state and federal law. An experienced family lawyer will give you a clear picture of what to expect and how to handle the challenges.
Gather All the Relevant Documents
The formula for dividing assets, finances, and other benefits is complicated and the process is usually lengthy. Gather as much information and documents regarding, insurance, investments, savings and all legal documents concerning assets.
After consulting a military divorce lawyer, you will know which documents will be relevant for your case. Ensure you make copies of each. Give the copies to your attorney or a trusted relative or friend.
Preparing and organizing these documents early on will ensure the divorce proceeds without any delays.
Seek Counseling Services
A divorce is a very emotional and confusing process, especially if it’s your spouse who initiated it unexpectedly. These feelings of stress and anger can become overwhelming and are dangerous especially for the spouse in active service.
As the divorce process continues, it is crucial to find a counselor. For an active-duty military spouse, the Military OneSource program offers free counseling before the divorce. Speaking to a counselor will help you begin the healing process.
As a result, you will be better placed to offer the emotional and psychological support your children will need.
Initiate the Separation Process
Depending on the state you are in, you may be required to be separated for a specified duration before a court can grant a divorce. For instance, any divorce in Virginia where young children are involved must be preceded by a 12-month separation.
Get in touch with your attorney and begin the separation process. At times, it can even be initiated before the service member returns from duty.
Develop a Co-Parenting Strategy and Visitation Plan
The biggest victims of divorce are children, especially if they are young. The changes can have a significant emotional and psychological toll on a child. This situation can even become harder if there is a vicious custody battle.
For the benefit of the children, it is important for divorcing parents to come up with a co-parenting strategy. The marital issues should not be used against any parent’s relationship with the children.
For you to become successful co-parents you should
- Create and maintain healthy communication with each other
- Avoid displaying any bad attitudes towards each other in front of the children
- Allow your children to have private bonding sessions with your co-parent
- Have a united front when it comes to disciplinary issues
- Maintain an open door for children to communicate their feelings at every stage of the divorce
If necessary, seek help with developing a suitable co-parenting agreement. Your military lawyer can help you in this regard. Also, Joining support groups for members whose exes are in active service can give you insight into effective co-parenting strategies.
Divorces are never easy but they do not have to be stressful and messy. This is especially important for the sake of the children. To get a fair divorce and retain custody or visitation rights of your children after a military divorce, ensure that you hire an experienced military divorce lawyer.