Does the Military Provide Divorce Lawyers?

If you’re a service member or military spouse seeking a divorce in San Antonio, it’s important to understand your rights, as both military and civilian laws will come in to play.

Can JAG Help Me?

The answer to this is: Sort of.

Every military post has an on-base JAG assistance office that exists to aid service members and their spouses with both civilian and military legal matters. When it comes to military divorce, JAG officers can’t help you file, but they can offer advice and counsel. Where they can be particularly helpful is providing information about military benefits, pensions, and pay during the divorce. These matters are generally more complex than a civilian divorce.

Some JAG offices may also refer you to a local civilian divorce attorney who can actually help you with the filing process.

Conflicts of interest are important to note here as well. Some military posts are limited to only one or two JAG officers, but they must serve the entire post. If your spouse approaches the JAG on post first, then the officer won’t be able to speak with you about the divorce because it would be a conflict of interest. Often, they’ll refer you to another officer, possibly even one from a different base. This shouldn’t be a reason for you to rush to the JAG office and try to beat your spouse there, but it’s important to understand that they have legal boundaries when it comes to giving both of you advice.

Where Do I File?

For military couples, this can be tricky. The person initiating the divorce should file in the state in which they currently reside, even if their spouse lives somewhere else.

If you’re a service member stationed at Lackland Air Force Base but your spouse still lives in Colorado, for example, you would find a San Antonio-based divorce attorney and file for divorce in Bexar County.

It’s also important to understand that military pensions are divided according to the laws of the military service member’s state of legal residence. For military families, this can become very complex.

As a military spouse, for example, you may have just moved to San Antonio because your service member has new orders at Fort Sam Houston, but they’re training in Pennsylvania, and their legal state of residency is still Washington State because they’ve been stationed at Fort Lewis-McCord for three years!

In other words, you may end up filing in one state but following another state’s laws when it comes to pensions and benefits — all while your spouse is serving somewhere else entirely.

How Long Will It Take?

Another way that military divorces differ from civilians is the timeframe. Military service members often find themselves in training or combat zones where communication is limited and difficult. If the service member is the one being served the divorce papers, they may be able to delay their formal response and court hearings based on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA.

If you’re a military spouse filing for divorce, then you may have to be patient with the process, especially if your service member is stationed or training elsewhere.

How a Civilian Divorce Attorney Can Help

Dubbed “Military City, USA,” San Antonio is home to tens of thousands of service members and their families who are stationed at the numerous bases and posts in Bexar County. Espronceda Law is honored to serve the area’s military community. If you’re a service member or spouse with divorce-related questions, call for your free consultation today. We’re well-versed in military divorce matters and the complexities of inter-state divorce proceedings and laws.

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