In the event of a divorce between two civilians, it is entirely possible to represent oneself in the divorce. This is called "pro se" representation. This option is best for two people that are in agreement on all issues of the divorce. It is also best for couples who have little by way of assets to divide, and no children for which to determine custody arrangements or child support amounts. When children, real estate or large amounts of assets are involved, it is best to retain the services of a qualified divorce attorney. But what about in the case of a couple in which one or both parties are a member of the military? If you are facing a divorce and you or your spouse is in the military, the following considerations will help you determine whether you should represent yourself or get the assistance of an attorney.
JAG Cannot Represent You
The Base or Post Legal Office, also known as the JAG Office, is unable to represent either spouse in the divorce proceedings. The JAG Office represents the Command in legal issues that affect the unit and installation. JAG attorneys are authorized to give limited legal advice when mission requirements and time permit. However, the JAG officers are not allowed to represent either spouse in the divorce proceeding, nor can the divorce be adjudicated through military legal channels. The divorce will be handled by the civilian court system, and both spouses will need to retain the services of a qualified civilian divorce attorney to represent them if they choose to have legal counsel. The installation Legal Office can provide referrals to attorneys in the civilian sector.
Should You Handle Your Own Divorce?
Again, civilian divorce can be relatively easy if few issues are in play. However, with a military divorce, the military member receives certain allowances for the support of their spouse and children. One such allowance is BAH - Basic Allowance for Housing. The civilian spouse may also be eligible to retain their TRICARE health insurance benefits post-divorce. There are rules set in place by the military and local, state and federal law regarding the disposition of these benefits during and after a divorce involving the military member. There are also specific rules on residency for military members and spouses in divorce proceedings. These rules and regulations can be confusing, so it is best to retain a local divorce attorney that is well-versed in military divorce. This will ensure that both spouses receive what they are entitled to in the divorce, and one spouse is not left with the short end of the stick.
There are limited circumstances in which a person should represent themselves in their own divorce proceedings. If you or your spouse is a military member, you should definitely retain a qualified divorce attorney that has a history of dealing with military divorce. This will ensure that you get a fair deal and that there are no hitches when pursuing your divorce through the local court system.
For more information, contact a practice like Karen Robins Carnegie PLC.