Divorce is a challenging process for anyone, but for service members who also navigate the complexities of military life, it can be even more daunting. From deployments to unique custody arrangements, military divorce presents unique legal considerations. 

Unfortunately, divorce rates among service members are often higher than the national average. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) offers specific protections for active duty military members facing divorce, and navigating these alongside Oklahoma state laws requires experienced legal guidance. 

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

The SCRA offers vital protections for service members facing various legal situations, including divorce. Here’s how the SCRA can impact your Oklahoma divorce:

  • Stay of Proceedings: The SCRA allows deployed service members to request a stay (delay) in divorce proceedings. This temporary halt ensures you have the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the legal process, even if stationed overseas.
  • Division of Property: Oklahoma is a community property state, meaning marital assets and debts are generally divided equally. However, the SCRA can influence the valuation and division of military retirement benefits, which are considered marital property.

Oklahoma Specifics for Military Divorce

Beyond the SCRA, several Oklahoma laws are relevant to military divorce:

  • Residency Requirements: One spouse must have lived in Oklahoma for at least 6 months before filing for divorce. However, deployments can complicate this requirement. You might meet the residency requirement if stationed in Oklahoma, even if you’re not originally from the state. In such cases, discuss your specific situation with an attorney to ensure you meet all necessary filing criteria.
  • Child Custody: Oklahoma courts prioritize the “best interests of the child” when determining child custody arrangements. A service member’s deployment schedule can be a significant factor considered by the court.
  • Child Support: Oklahoma follows child support guidelines based on both parents’ income. The service member’s Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) may be considered income for child support purposes.

Considerations for Military Members Initiating Divorce

  • Military Pension: A military pension is considered marital property in Oklahoma. A skilled attorney will ensure your pension is valued fairly and factored appropriately into the property division settlement.
  • Child Custody: The SCRA does not dictate child custody arrangements, but it can influence proceedings if deployment impacts your ability to participate. Deployment can be a factor, but not the sole determinant.

Considerations for Military Spouses Facing Divorce

  • Financial Security: A military spouse often relies on the service member’s income. The SCRA protects a spouse’s financial interests during divorce. An attorney can guide you through securing temporary alimony or child support while the case progresses.
  • Health Insurance: Military health insurance (Tricare) benefits can be affected by divorce. An attorney can advise you on maintaining Tricare coverage or securing alternative health insurance options.
  • Deployment and Communication: Deployment can create communication challenges. The court will consider these challenges when determining timelines and ensuring both parties have the opportunity to participate fairly.

Served with Divorce Papers While Deployed

Receiving divorce papers while deployed can be overwhelming. However, as previously mentioned, the SCRA allows service members to request a stay of proceedings, giving them time to address the situation with legal counsel. Do not ignore those papers! Contact an attorney specializing in military and family law immediately to get the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Military Divorce & Child Custody

Custody issues can be particularly complex for military families due to the potential for deployment and frequent relocations. When determining custody arrangements, courts in Oklahoma prioritize the best interests of the child, while also considering the unique circumstances of military life.
For service members facing deployment or frequent moves, creating a comprehensive parenting plan is essential. This plan should address visitation schedules, communication during deployments, and how decisions regarding the child’s upbringing will be made in the service member’s absence.

The Road Ahead

Military divorce is an emotionally charged and complex process. Understanding your rights and seeking guidance from experienced legal professionals can make a significant difference in achieving a fair and just outcome. 

Navigating military divorce and custody issues requires careful consideration of legal protections, custody arrangements, and effective communication between both parties. Navigating it while on active duty requires a legal team with a deep understanding of both military law and Oklahoma family law.

At Cannon & Associates, we’re committed to providing compassionate and comprehensive legal representation to service members and their families facing divorce and custody matters. We will advocate for your rights, ensure your military service is considered fairly, and help you achieve a fair and just outcome.

Call us today at (405) 358-4902 to schedule a free case strategy session or contact us here and learn how we can assist you during this challenging time.


Monthly Legal Tip: Preparing for a Smooth Transition

  • Gather Financial Documents: Before initiating the divorce process, collect important documents like bank statements, pay stubs, investment records, and military pension information. This will streamline the property division process.
  • Create a Budget: Divorce can impact your finances. Develop a budget that considers your income and expenses as a single person or parent.
  • Assess Communication Strategies: Divorce can be emotionally charged. Develop healthy communication strategies with your soon-to-be ex to minimize conflict, especially regarding co-parenting and child custody arrangements.
  • Research Support Resources: Military OneSource (https://www.militaryonesource.mil/) offers financial counseling, deployment planning resources, and confidential military family life counseling to help navigate the emotional challenges of divorce.

Proactive Steps for Service Members:

  • Understand Deployment Clauses: If you have an existing child custody agreement, review it for clauses regarding deployments. If one doesn’t exist, factor in potential deployments when creating a new custody plan.
  • Prepare a Family Care Plan: Develop a detailed family care plan outlining childcare arrangements, financial responsibilities, and communication protocols during deployments. This ensures stability for your children during your absence.
  • Legal Representation: Seek legal guidance from an attorney experienced in both military and family law. They can advise you on your rights under the SCRA, ensuring a fair outcome in property division and child custody matters.

Additional Tips for Military Spouses:

  • Maintain Separate Finances: Consider establishing separate bank accounts, especially if you rely heavily on your spouse’s income. This can provide financial security during the divorce process.
  • Document Contributions: If you significantly contributed to your spouse’s career (e.g., managing the household, childcare) during their military service, document these contributions. This may be relevant when dividing marital assets.
  • Explore Educational and Career Opportunities: Consider pursuing educational or career opportunities to increase your financial independence during and after the divorce.