Planning Your Divorce While Overseas for Military Service

Planning Your Divorce While Overseas for Military Service

For active duty military, divorce can be a very different experience. The demands and logistics of being in the Armed Forces can make it a lot more challenging just to do the basic things you normally have to do during a divorce. While technology has made all of this much easier in recent years, deployed service members are still at a great disadvantage in this regard, as are those who are stationed abroad. With this in mind, here are 5 steps for planning your divorce while overseas for military service.

Step 1: Contact a Lawyer Near Your Home Or Duty Station

If you are stationed in South Carolina and serving on a deployment, then it is likely your place of residence for the purposes of proper jurisdiction. The appropriate venue would be the South Carolina county where you and your spouse (and children, if applicable) reside. If you and your family are stationed abroad together, the U.S. state and county where you consider your permanent domicile will likely be the appropriate location to bring a case. So, if you and your family previously were stationed in, lived in, owned a home in, or joined the military from South Carolina, it may be the appropriate place to bring your divorce action. An experienced military divorce lawyer can help you determine where and how to bring your divorce case.

Step 2: Gather Paperwork

One of the biggest challenges for when planning a divorce while overseas for military service is accessing necessary paperwork. If you have reliable internet access, you should change all of your passwords and login information for email accounts, social media, and so forth. Make sure your spouse cannot read your emails. Next, make a list of any and all assets, personal property, real estate, cash accounts, banks, investments, retirement accounts, and the like. Get this to your attorney. Make a note of anything you cannot access while abroad so that your attorney can help.

Step 3: Speaking Of Social Media…

Stay off social media. Do everything you can to avoid posting anything about your intentions on social media. For that matter, it is best to just avoid it altogether. It’s unbelievable the types of things people voluntarily make public through the Internet, much of which can be used against them later. When in doubt, don’t.

Step 4: Build Your Support Group

If you have a brother, sister, parent, best friend, or other trusted individual stateside who can help, let your attorney know. While it is best not to drag others into your divorce, it can be very helpful to have someone who cares about you to listen to you and offer emotional support. Divorce can be a lonely process, and your attorney will want you to avoid discussing details with anyone, but there are some things you can discuss. For instance, you can have the person run errands for you, drop off things for your lawyer, or just listen while you talk about what you are going through. Men often find it harder to confide in loved ones, and this often results in more isolation during divorce.

Step 5: Initiate Your Separation

Under Section 20-3-10 of the South Carolina Domestic Relations law, there are only two ways to get divorced: for grounds or upon separation for more than a year. If you have evidence of grounds, you can petition for divorce for any of these reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Physical cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness (including drug addictions)

If none of these can reasonably be proven, you must be separated for at least one year. For those who are deployed, the courts generally do not consider deployment to be separation. Therefore, it’s important to take advantage of the time apart by having your attorney create a formal separation agreement. There are other steps you can take to show the separation. This can make it easier to move forward with the divorce upon your return.

Get A Lawyer Involved Right Away

The sooner you call a lawyer, the sooner you can begin the process of planning for your divorce while improving your chance of avoiding costly mistakes. The attorneys of Klok Law Firm LLC have decades of experience helping divorcing couples, including those serving in the military. Call (843) 216-8860 or contact the firm online to schedule an initial telephone consultation.