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How does a military divorce work if one party is an active duty service member?

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Dating back to World War II, laws have been in effect to provide military personnel a fair opportunity to participate in their Court proceedings.  The most current laws are contained in the Federal law called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”).  The SCRA contains many provisions, but the primary purpose of the SCRA that applies to family law cases is to protect the active-duty military member against a default order (an order entered without the participation of the military member).


  1. Whether you or your spouse is an active-duty military member, a divorce action can be started.


  1. The SCRA requires that before entering a default order (an order entered without one party’s participation), the Court must require the moving party to file an affidavit stating whether the other party is in the military service. If the moving party is unable to determine whether the defaulting party is in the military service, they must state to the Court their inability to determine the military status of the other party.

Burnham Law assures that all its divorce cases comply with the SCRA.  From the first pleadings, Burnham Law notifies the Court if the other party (or Burnham Law’s client) is a military member.


  1. The SCRA also allows any active-duty military member to request a minimum 90-day delay in the case proceeding. After the first delay is granted, additional delays in the case can be granted if the service member’s military duty continues to negatively affect their ability to appear and/or participate.  The delays to the case can be requested at any stage in the case.

Burnham Law has a long history of working with military members.  Burnham Law uses the provisions of the SCRA to assure its military clients have adequate time to respond and participate in their divorce actions.


  1. If a default order is entered in a divorce against a servicemember during the servicemember’s military duty (or shortly thereafter), the SCRA allows the Court to reopen the judgment at the request of the servicemember. For the Court to reopen the judgment, the servicemember must show that his/her military service materially affected their ability to make a defense and that the servicemember has an actual defense in the action.

At Burnham Law, we have the legal expertise to assure that any default order entered against a military member is fair, reasonable, and complies with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.  If you are/were a military member and a default divorce order was entered against you, and you are within 90 days for your release from military service; contact Burnham Law to see if you qualify to reopen your judgment.


Burnham Law has professionals with extensive experience in military divorces.  Military divorces require an understanding of the Federal law that few family law attorneys possess.  Military divorces not only work under the laws of Colorado, but many Federal laws are also involved.  Some of the Federal laws are unique only to military divorces and are rarely, if ever, applied well by an attorney who does not consistently handle military divorces.

Military divorces also present unique challenges that not every family law attorney has experience in handling.  If you have ever seen the paystub for a military member, then you understand just how different military vs. civilian calculations can be.  Just some of the unique military challenges are: the calculation of the military member’s income for support purposes, the division of military pensions/retirement plans, working with DFAS to correct errors, and continued health insurance coverage.  Your divorce attorney needs to have experience with these unique military challenges.  This is true whether you are the military member yourself or your spouse is the military member.

Burnham Law has litigation experience with these challenges.  With offices located near Colorado’s major military bases, Burnham Law has the expertise and experience to handle your military divorce.

The entire text of the SCRA can be found beginning at 50 United States Code Annotated § 3901.  If you or a loved one is involved in a military divorce, contact us today to get the help you need by calling (303) 990-5308.

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Managing Partner

Colorado Springs

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