For military officers, getting divorced involves more complications than it does for civilians. From protecting your pension to making sure you will be able to participate in your children’s upbringing, nearly every aspect of your military life – and every aspect of your divorce – requires thorough consideration and a measured approach.
Experienced Lawyer for Military Divorces
Attorney Richard Renkin focuses a significant portion of his divorce practice on representing military officers in San Diego County. He is intimately familiar with the unique issues involved in military divorces, and he uses his experience, knowledge, and insights to help each client effectively pursue a favorable result in his or her divorce. Contact us now to schedule a confidential case evaluation with Richard Renkin.
Preparing for Your Divorce While Stationed in San Diego
When preparing for a divorce as a member of the military, one of the first questions that comes up is where you need to file. As a general rule, you must file for divorce in the state and county where you are considered “domiciled.” However, the rules regarding domicile are complex, and you need to make sure that the court where you file has jurisdiction over your spouse as well.
We represent military officers who are stationed at the following San Diego-area bases and who are stationed overseas but are considered “domiciled” in San Diego County:
- Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
- Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
- Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego
- Naval Base Coronado (Naval Air Station North Island and the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado)
- Naval Base Point Loma
- Naval Base San Diego
- U.S. Coast Guard Station San Diego
If you are not sure where to file, we can help you choose the appropriate court to initiate your divorce.
Handling Complex Issues in Your Military Divorce
Along with domicile issues, as a military officer, you will face many other important questions during your divorce as well. Attorney Richard Renkin can help you answer questions including, but not limited to:
- What happens to my military pension and retirement benefits if I file for divorce?
- Should I maintain my Uniformed Services Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) election?
- Can I get custody of my children if I am an active-duty officer in the military?
- How will the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) help me protect my rights during my divorce?
- Can my spouse’s lawyer use my deployment against me?
- Will my children still have access to Tricare?
- How is child support calculated for active-duty military personnel?
What If I am Retired?
If you are a retired military officer, one of the most important issues for you (and your spouse) will be understanding how your retirement benefits will get divided during your divorce. For divorce purposes, retirement pay is treated similarly to other types of income. This means that it will generally qualify as community property that is subject to division along with your other assets, and it can come into play in determining any child support and alimony payments as well.
Richard Renkin has extensive experience with property division under California law, and he can help you craft a strategy designed to protect your retirement pay and other assets as much as possible.
Can’t a JAG Lawyer Help Me?
While JAG offers free legal services to active-duty military officers, these services are limited, and most JAG lawyers are not familiar with the complexities of the divorce laws in California or any other particular state. Your divorce is a serious matter that will affect your life – and your children’s lives – for years to come. As a result, and to make sure that you are protecting yourself as much as possible, it is generally best to hire a local attorney who focuses exclusively on divorces and other family law matters.
Why Choose the Law Office of Renkin & Associates?
There are several law firms that handle divorces in San Diego. So, why choose the Law Office of Renkin & Associates?
- Experienced Divorce Attorney – Richard Renkin has been handling divorces in San Diego, CA since 1991. He is also among the limited number of Certified Family Law Specialists practicing in San Diego County.
- Commitment to Divorce Representation – Unlike other firms, we focus exclusively on representing clients in complex divorces and other family law matters.
- Focus on Representing Military Officers – We have dedicated ourselves to understanding the laws that affect military personnel. We know the issues at play, and we know how to help you protect what matters most.
Divorce Attorney Answers Military Divorce FAQs
For military officers, getting a divorce raises many questions that don’t apply to divorces involving two civilians. From custody matters to the issue of retirement and healthcare benefits, you are not alone if you have many questions about what to expect both during and after your divorce.
Richard Renkin is a San Diego, CA divorce attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist with nearly 30 years of experience who recently received the prestigious AV Preeminent Judicial Award. Here, he provides answers to some frequently-asked questions about military divorce. For more information on how Renkin can serve you, please visit our military divorce lawyer page.
Military Divorce FAQs
Q: Where should I file for divorce?
A: Generally speaking, as a military officer, your jurisdiction options include:
- The state or county where you are considered “domiciled”;
- The state or county where your spouse resides; and,
- Any other jurisdiction upon which you and your spouse mutually agree.
As a member of the military, determining your state or county of “domicile” is not always easy. For example, even if you are stationed overseas or have spent time on various military bases, it is entirely possible that your domicile is still here in San Diego County. Voter registration, vehicle registrations, the address you use on your tax returns, and a number of other factors can all come into play in determining where you are eligible to file for divorce.
Q: Is my spouse entitled to a portion of my military retirement benefits?
A: Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), military spouses are not automatically entitled to a portion of an officer’s retirement benefits. However, the USFSPA does authorize state divorce courts to divide military retirement benefits as an element of community property.
Q: Will I be required to pay child support?
A: There are a number of factors that go into determining which spouse will be obligated to pay child support; and, in California, child support payments are determined based upon the spouses’ respective incomes and the California Child Support Guidelines. However, as a military officer, understanding your qualifying income for purposes of calculating child support presents some unique challenges.
For example, your qualifying income will not necessarily equate to the amount you are required to report on your federal tax returns. At the Law Office of Renkin & Associates, we have specific experience working with military personnel and can help you accurately calculate you or your spouse’s child support obligations.
Q: Can I obtain custody of my children if I am deployed?
A: Deployment presents an issue when it comes to child custody for obvious reasons; but, being deployed does not necessarily mean that you have to give up your right to custody. In a military divorce, establishing a family care plan can be critical, and it is also important to understand how you may be able to use the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to delay custody proceedings until you return from overseas.
When an individual in the military is deployed, oftentimes it becomes difficult to resolve legal issues especially in the case of divorces and custody issues. In regards to the military personnel, they are in the unfortunate position of possibly losing their rights.
Many service members have faced scrutiny for leaving children in the custody of family members when they get deployed. It is in the best interests of service members to be highly communicative about their status so that both parents can attend to the best interests of the child.
Under the Family Protection Act, which is under consideration, judges are prevented from ruling in opposition to service members based on past deployments or the possibility of deployments arising in the future. It is conceivable that parents may benefit from these new protections outlined in this legislation.
Since it is common knowledge that anyone in the military can be ordered at any time to be deployed, politicians and proponents of the bill believe that military life should not be a barrier when it comes to being awarded sole custody of a child. However, it should be clearly pointed out that this does not specifically provide an advantage for service members but rather it hopes to eliminate any disadvantage to those who are deployed or might be deployed.
Furthermore, the bill expands on the general definition of what constitutes “deployment” which includes any type of humanitarian operations and all overseas tours. Additionally, the bill is an amendment to the Civil Relief Act which is a current federal law that provides legal privileges to service members when they are deployed.
Q: Do I need to hire a JAG lawyer to assist me with my divorce?
A: While hiring a JAG lawyer is an option (JAG offers free legal assistance for active-duty military personnel), it isn’t necessarily the best option for your divorce. Divorce laws are complicated (and state-specific), and an attorney who focuses his or her practice exclusively on family law matters may be able to provide you with more-detailed and more-personalized legal representation for your divorce. JAG lawyers are what are known as “generalists” – lawyers who practice in a wide range of legal areas without focusing on one specific type of legal issue or in one particular jurisdiction.
For More Information, Contact the Law Office of Renkin & Associates
If you would like to speak with an attorney about your military divorce, contact the Law Office of Renkin & Associates to schedule a confidential case evaluation. Call our San Diego, CA offices at 619-299-7100 or submit a request online and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Photo via Flickr by Aubrey Arcangel
Schedule a Confidential Case Evaluation with a Military Divorce Attorney in San Diego, CA
If you are a military officer and are considering filing for divorce (or if you think your spouse may be preparing to file), contact the Law Office of Renkin & Associates in San Diego, CA for a confidential military legal assistance divorce case evaluation. Richard Renkin will meet with you personally to discuss the unique circumstances of your case. To get started, call 619-299-7100 or request your case evaluation online now.
Photo via Flickr by Naval Surface Warriors