Skip to main content

What happens with my military pension if my wife can not find me to serve me the divorce papers.

Colorado Springs, CO |

I am leaving for the UK soon and will be traveling abroad for the next couple of years. I have been trying to get a divorce for 2 years but my wife is contesting everything. I am ready to move on with life. If she attempts to serve me and I'm not here what will happen with my military pension when the divorce moves forward? She is also retired military so my understanding of it is she gets 1/2 the difference (mine is the higher pension). She is in GA and I am in CO. I am not worried about the judge ruling on property in GA, she can have all of it, I just don't want to find out that she got more than her fair share of my pension. Also, I was told that the judge will not rule on monetary issues like my pension and possible alimony if I am not present, is this true? Thank you.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 4

Best Answer
Posted

Contrary to popular belief, federal law does not control the division of military retirement benefits in a divorce. Federal law merely allows the states to divide military retirement as they would other retirement benefits.

Different states have different laws, so you will want to check with someone who practices in any jurisdiction your wife is likely to file (she may have a choice of different states) who is familiar with military divorce issues.

If you are still in the military, you can invoke the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act in order to have a stay in the proceedings until you are able to appear and defend.

As stated, different states have different laws, but if the divorce was in Arkansas the advice you were given would be very bad advice -- especially if you are not in the service any longer because she can serve you by publishing a warning order in the newspaper if she is unable to locate you. Then, if you do not file an answer she can get a judgment by default - and the Court CAN divide property, assign debt liabilities and order support even if you do not appear and defend.

This response is for information purposes only, it does not create any attorney-client relationship. Responses to questions posted on this Forum are of a general nature only. Because it is not possible to have all of the facts of your issue addressed in this forum, you should consult with an attorney to review the unique circumstances specific to your situation. www.TheSchollLawFirm.com

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

Good counsel.

Asker

Posted

I was told that since I am not a resident of the State (GA) then the judge would have no jurisdiction over the financial issues unless I were to appear in court and/or be served and submit to GA jurisdiction. That is my main question I guess. I was told that as well as the only thing the judge would be able to rule on was the joint property located in GA and the dissolution of marriage. I realize it is up to the States to decide how a military pension will be divided, but the main question is would he have jurisdiction over my pension since I am not a resident of GA anymore, I am and have been a resident of CO for 2 years now.

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

You are misinformed.

Scott Allen Scholl

Scott Allen Scholl

Posted

There are a variety of ways that a Court can obtain personal jurisdiction over someone, residency is but one, plus she would always have the option of filing in another state (such as Colorado) that does have jurisdiction over you. Do you really want the decision on the division of your retirement and any other property based solely on the arguments that your wife gives to the Court, or would you rather have a chance to present your side of the case to the judge? A lot of smart people have been developing the law over hundreds of years, it is not as simple as just not showing up to defeat the court's ability to hear a case.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your response Mr Scholl. I have decided to try filing through Colorado which is a 90 day wait period. I was not sure how the jurisdiction worked on all of it but now I see that no matter what happens she will still be able to come after me whether she knows where I am or not. That is what I was trying to find out. Thank again.

Posted

If you want to control matters and protect your retirement, hire a diviorce attorney and close the matter out. After two years if even one of you was serious you would already be divorced. You spending two years traveling will not protect your assets.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

Asker

Posted

I am serious, she is not. And because of my retirement from the military and lack of finding a good job I have not had the money to persistently pursue a divorce. She has contested everything I have done. I have spent over $5,000 trying, but I do not have enough money to take it to court and get it resolved. $5,000 may not sound like much, but when I am surviving off of a $1,800 a month pension and still trying to meet my financial obligations, it is a huge sum, that is why I posted my question on here. As far as Europe goes the main purpose of my visit over there is my sisters spouse recently passed and she lives in the UK and is an emotional wreck. She has requested me to come over there and stay with her to help her through this. The traveling part is because I will have to leave the UK after 6 months and then turn around and re-enter as the law of the Visa states. If I like it over there I am considering staying there and applying for a Work Visa. But, once again, I am surviving off of my pension as of right now and I won't have the money to be flying back and forth from the UK for court hearings .

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

Your first question dealt with what your wife might do if you left, now you claim you are serious about the divorce and she is not. You're broke but you're iff to the UK for 6 months. You got your answers from several attorneys. I think you have nothing better to do but waste time. I am done with this thread.

Asker

Posted

For the record, my sister is paying for my trip to the UK. And I got the answer I was looking for a little while ago about jurisdiction. I came on here to ask a legitimate question, there is no need to beat me up about it. I am not a lawyer, so it is a very confusing issue for me. When I said my wife is not serious it is because she wants everything, more than she is entitled to, so I was merely trying to find out what would happen if I wasn't in the US and she filed so she could get her way, that is all. I was answered that things would go her way if I was not here to take care of the matter, so I am not going anywhere and I have decided to try filing through the State of Colorado by taking advantage of their government self help program. There is a very limited amount of how much I can write in my question, I tried putting in as much detail as I could. I did find a lot of the answers very helpful from the other lawyers, and I appreciate the advice. But since you are concerned about my finances now you know that it is my sister that would be funding my trip as well as staying at her house over there. And sorry I didn't make it clear to how I was getting to the UK and what all my plans were over there for you, I did not find it relative to all the facts to my question, just that I would be leaving and would be gone for an extended amount of time. Sorry I wasted your time, guess some of us that don't know much about the law and need things clarified a little more should just stay off this page.

Posted

Military families often find themselves in a world of confusion because sometimes it is not possible to establish personal jurisdiction to proceed with the property division issues in a divorce. It is always possible to obtain a divorce, sometimes by publication, but in Colorado, publication does not confer personal jurisdiction to divide marital assets such as a military pension. You would be well advised to consult with an attorney who understands military pensions. There are several very capable family law attorneys in Colorado Springs who can assist you.

Posted

Leaving the country to avoid a court date is terrible advice. Find an attorney that specializes in GA divorce law and finalize your divorce before you leave for Europe.

Asker

Posted

I am not leaving to avoid a court date, my sisters spouse recently passed and she lives in the UK. She is an emotional wreck. So I am going there to be with her and she has offered to let me stay there indefinately. I have no ties here to keep me so I figured I would see if I liked it there and if so apply for a work Visa. My concern is what happens if she files for divorce and I am not here. I do not speak to her and I do not want to let her know I am going to the UK, it is my own personal business and my sister doesn't want her to know her address over there. That is the reason I am going and why I am concerned about my pension. I was told that the judge would not have jurisdiction over me since I am not a resident of GA and therefore could not make a ruling on financial matters against me without me present or at least served, except for the joint property we have in GA which is our house, which she can have. So that is my situation. I don't have money to be flying back and forth from the UK for court hearings and my sister really needs me.

John Daniel Hafemann

John Daniel Hafemann

Posted

I totally understand. You are in a tough spot. I think the best thing you can do is find a GA attorney who specializes in divorce to help you through your divorce so you can move on.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer