What are grounds for divorce in the military?
Actually, there aren’t specifically grounds for divorce in the military. The Uniform Code of Military Justice doesn’t include divorce. It’s more of a criminal code. The grounds for divorce in the military are the same as the grounds for divorce in your state. Basically, Oklahoma law will allow you to get divorced for any reason up to and including not wanting to be married anymore, adultery, impotence, abuse, abandonment, or plain incompatibility. You don’t want to be with the person anymore, so you don’t have to.
Would state law supersede any military laws in divorce?
Generally speaking, the state laws control in a divorce. As there are no divorce codes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. What we’re actually looking at is divorces where one person is in the military or both people are in the military and how to help military members/their families negotiate their ways through divorce proceedings. There are some things that can be more complicated because a person is in the military than they would be if they were not.
What is your experience with military divorce?
Our experience with military is extensive. Our attorneys have been working on divorces for military members for the last twenty five years. Mr. Moore was a member of the military. He was Army Special Forces and has subsequently been divorced. He actually has had a military divorce. We specialize in this area of practice predominantly because all of us here have some level and degree of experience with the military.
Because of that experience, what common obstacles do you find a soldier or a spouse might face with a divorce?
The most common obstacle that we find that a soldier or spouse might face in a divorce is presence physically. Soldiers, airmen, Marines, whatever, they tend to deploy, and that can make a divorce really tricky as far as the timing goes. For example, in Oklahoma in order for the court to have jurisdiction personally over the military member or their spouse, they have to have lived in Oklahoma for a period of six months prior to filing for divorce. That’s a thing that we need to be cognizant of when helping someone get a divorce, especially someone who’s in the military. They need to have that residency requirement fulfilled. Additionally, as far as the timing goes on getting a divorce, there’s a number of steps that come into any court action including divorces. The steps have to take place in a certain order, and there’s time limits as far as completing Discovery or getting a hearing or responding to motions, and we have to be sure that we’re able to do those things for our clients, even when they are unreachable.
We need to be sure that our client and also the opposing party are going to be available and present to be able to do the things that need to be done in the divorce. We need to work around deployment schedules and work schedules that are quite often really difficult as far as getting custody and visitation for the children. Once again, as a firm whose members all have some level of experience with the military, we’re really well suited to understand those different complications and to foresee them and get around them with our clients.
There are also specific Oklahoma statutes that apply to military divorces, especially with relation to custody and visitation of minor children. For example, the law prohibits using military deployment as proof of a change in circumstances when determining or changing custody of children, and also doesn’t allow custody of the children to be changed while someone is deployed. Additionally, there are rules as to what a separated spouse is entitled to, as far as military pay and benefits during the divorce proceedings.
What should someone’s first steps be when they have a divorce proceeding?
Your first step if you want to get a divorce should definitely be to sit down and chat with an attorney. An invaluable thing is to have the advice of counsel as soon as you possibly can. A lot of people, they start out wanting a divorce, and it starts out seeming as though everything’s going to go right and you’re going to get along and it’s going to be an easy one off procedure. Then, something happens and someone disagrees and things go sideways. At that point, you’re already in a proceeding and it’s a little bit more difficult to get an attorney to come on board. The first and best step that you can take for yourself honestly is to sit down and talk to an attorney. Whether you do that by yourself or whether you do that with your spouse and try to negotiate out a settlement is entirely up to you, but it really is crucial that you have that advice of an attorney and that you have an attorney there to tell you what you need to do and to help you should anything start to slip off and go in a wrong direction.
Is it possible to get assistance with finances and child custody before a divorce is final?
There are actually a number of ways that you can get assistance with finances and child custody before the divorce is final. First and foremost is what we call a temporary order. Basically, what that is is when you file your divorce petition you’ll also file with the court an application for temporary orders. Those temporary orders from the court can contain everything from custody and visitation of the kids to interim spousal support to interim child support to literally orders about who’s going to live in what house and who gets the dog on Tuesdays. It can really be anything that you want it to be.
Those temporary orders will generally be issued upon hearing within about a month of filing for a divorce. Once you have gotten that temporary order, that is an order of the court and has to be followed by both you and your spouse and you can also take that temporary order. As a military dependent or military service member, that temporary order can then be taken to military finance and can be used as a basis for starting an allotment from military pay to the spouse for the period of time that the divorce takes for things like child support or spousal support or even for attorney’s fees.
Why is your firm the best choice for military divorce?
Our firm is best choice for military divorce because everybody here has some experience with the military. Rick Moore as a member of the Army Special Forces for a number of years before retiring from the military and then going to law school and becoming an attorney. Mr. Moore has maintained some ties to the military through just being retired from the military. Shanda Adam’s father was Air Force and ended up being special operations with the Air Force.
Their family traveled a lot and her father was deployed quite a lot of the time. So she has the experience of knowing what it’s like to have someone who is important to you and who’s your parent gone most of the time. We understand what it takes to work around those kinds of schedules, and the upheaval that moving every couple of years can have as an effect on someone’s life. Also, our newest associate Jason, his father was in the Navy and retired here in Oklahoma. So, we have three branches of the military represented within our law firm, and all of us have varying levels of experience in dealing with specific complications and specific unique experiences of military service people.