Milwaukee Military Divorce Lawyer
Experienced family law attorneys for service members and their spouses
If you are a service member or military spouse contemplating divorce, you need capable legal representation from an attorney who understands your circumstances. Karp & Iancu, S.C. has provided excellent divorce and family law representation for more than 30 years. Given our proximity to Coast Guard Station Milwaukee, we have frequently served USCG personnel and their spouses. We understand the unique challenges that service members and their spouses face. In fact, associate attorney Margaret E. Murphy served eight years as an officer in the United States Army and continues to serve on the Service Academy Selection Committee for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin. You can trust our attorneys for their knowledge, experience and determination.
Understanding the differences between civilian and military divorce
Although a military divorce goes through the same family court as a civilian divorce, there are certain laws that distinguish the process. For example, the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act allows the court to exercise its discretion to postpone a divorce proceeding for the entire time an active duty service member is deployed and for 60 days thereafter. This law is meant to protect the service member from default in a divorce proceeding.
Serving active duty personnel with divorce papers can also present difficulties, since the law requires personal service before a court can have jurisdiction over the case.
Child custody and visitation also present unique challenges for service members due to frequent movement or redeployment. Although the court uses Wisconsin state guidelines to determine child support, those payments and alimony combined cannot equal more than 60 percent of a service member’s pay. The military also levies severe consequences, including separation from service, to personnel who do not pay support as ordered.
Retirement benefits in a military divorce
Often the most contentious aspect of a military divorce is the division of the service member’s retirement benefits. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) governs the way a court calculates and divides military retirement benefits upon divorce. Payments are made directly to the former spouse without first going to the retiree. However, a spouse cannot claim a share of a service member’s military pension unless the marriage lasts at least 10 years.
For this reason, many couples opt for a legal separation if they have not reached the 10-year mark. Separation resolves all ancillary issues, such as child custody, child support, property division and spousal support, but it does not dissolve the marriage, and the spouse retains medical benefits. The couple is free to reconcile at any time, or they may file for a final divorce after the spouse qualifies for benefits.
The federal laws will not divide and distribute any of the military member’s retirement to the spouse unless they have been married 10 years or longer while the member has been active duty military.
Contact our Milwaukee law firm for experienced military divorce representation
If you or your spouse is in the military, you need a divorce lawyer who understands the nuances of the law. The knowledgeable and experienced Milwaukee military divorce attorneys at Karp & Iancu, S.C. can capably manage your military divorce. Call us at 414-453-0800 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.