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Denver Military Divorce Lawyer

Denver Military Divorce Lawyer

The Denver military divorce lawyers at Ciancio, Ciancio, Brown, P.C. have decades of experience and a history of satisfied clients in Colorado, including a successful track record of navigating divorce proceedings for active-duty service members.

If a divorce has become inevitable for you and your spouse, and the armed services are a factor in your marriage and Colorado divorce, you need a Denver military divorce attorney with many years of experience navigating the unique complexities of a military divorce.

Divorce is always a distressing reality for a couple to face and often comes with frustrating legal challenges. These challenges can become complex when divorcing spouses have children and assets, with matters of custody, child support, and property division to face. When one or both parties in a divorce are members of the military, the challenges may be distinctly different compared to typical divorces.

Once your divorce becomes final, it’s very difficult to go back and change the terms of your divorce agreement. That’s why it’s critical to reach an agreeable outcome even with the additional legalities involved in military divorce.

Denver Military Divorce Attorney

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How Can a Denver Military Divorce Lawyer Help?

Nearly 50% of active duty service members are married. The stress of marriage, careers, and raising a family often ends civilian marriages, but with the additional challenges of lengthy separations and frequent moves imposed on military families, the divorce rate among members of the military is higher than in any other profession. Deployment in the military has a detrimental impact on marriages, with the likelihood of divorce increasing with the number of months per year spent apart.

If you’re facing divorce and either you, your spouse or both parties are military service members, you need a skilled divorce lawyer with decades of experience in the unique legalities of military divorce to see you through the process. A skilled attorney can help you to accomplish the outcomes you desire in matters pertaining to assets, parenting time, and other conditions of your divorce agreement—all with the dignity you deserve for your service as an active-duty military member or as the spouse of a military member who made necessary sacrifices during the duration of the marriage.

We Represent Your Interests

At Ciancio, Ciancio, Brown, P.C., our Denver divorce attorneys will do the following to diligently represent your interests throughout the divorce process:

  • Determine jurisdiction which depends on which party initiates the divorce proceedings
  • Ask for a 90-day stay on divorce proceedings if necessary during deployment after complying with Colorado’s mandatory 91-day waiting period for divorce
  • Resolve issues of child custody, including the unique requirements associated with military family members such as ensuring continued access to phone visitation during deployments and ample parenting time when the active duty service member returns from deployment
  • Protect your interests in the matter of Colorado’s rule for the equitable division of assets, including military retirement benefits which have been considered marital property and subject to division in a divorce since a 1988 ruling
  • Explain your rights under the Frozen Benefits Rule
  • Ensure that any applicable benefits of the Service Members’ Relief Act are evoked when required, such as protection against default charges for failure to respond during active duty, and postponing proceedings during active duty by one of the parties in the divorce
  • Include provisions for a variance in child support during a service member’s deployment if it includes a change in pay
  • Diligently ensure all paperwork is correctly filed in a timely manner
  • Communicate openly and frequently to keep you informed of every step of the process until the divorce becomes final

You shouldn’t have to face the complexities of divorce alone. While a military divorce lawyer isn’t a mandatory part of the process, by securing representation with the Denver military divorce attorneys at Ciancio, Ciancio, Brown, P.C., you can rest assured that your interests will become our priority.

No one should go it alone during the divorce process, but it’s especially important for military spouses to hire an experienced attorney with the unique skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to successfully navigate the more complex requirements of a military divorce.

Why Should I Hire a Military Divorce Lawyer?

While any experienced divorce attorney in Denver can help the average spouse through the divorce process, not every lawyer has experience in navigating the unique requirements of a military divorce. Deployment, frequent family relocations, and the federal and jurisdictional factors involved in a military divorce are complex and require careful navigation by an attorney with years of experience in this specialized arena.

Hiring an attorney with experience in the unique intricacies of military divorce minimizes the chance of delays due to an overlooked legal point in the process. A Denver family lawyer offers specialized services that meet the unique needs of military families during the divorce process in Colorado, including matters of child custody, child support, military pension, and Survivor Benefit Plans.

For active service members and their spouses, a military divorce attorney in Denver can answer questions unique to military spouses, and provide guidance on all aspects of divorce during active duty.

When Should I Contact An Attorney About Filing for Divorce?

Once you come to the decision that a divorce is the inevitable end of your marriage and that you and your spouse would be happier apart than you are together, it’s time to contact a divorce attorney. By being the first spouse to file, you become the petitioner, and your spouse is the respondent in the divorce action.

If you’ve already been served with divorce papers, it means your spouse has reached the decision to divorce, making you the respondent to the petition. Respondents in divorce typically have 21 days to file their response to the petition, but this deadline is sometimes legally delayed for deployed active-duty military members.

Besides these basic reasons to contact an attorney, if you’ve delayed seeking an attorney for your divorce, hiring skilled legal representation is critical in any of the following circumstances:

  • You face an immediate need for emergency financial support from a spouse
  • Your spouse won’t let you see your children
  • You’ve received a settlement offer from your spouse and have legal questions or require counsel before making your response
  • You want to avoid making costly mistakes in your filings
  • You don’t feel safe in your current situation

Father with daughter

How Much Does a Military Divorce Attorney Charge?

No two divorces are the same just as no two marriages are the same. A military divorce lawyer from Ciancio, Ciancio, Brown, P.C. takes a resolution-based approach to divorce. By successfully negotiating all aspects of the divorce agreement outside the courtroom it greatly minimizes the expense of a divorce. However, if you and your spouse are unable to come to mutually agreeable terms on one or more issues, your Denver military divorce attorney is more than ready to argue vigorously for your rights and best interests in a divorce trial. Divorce cases argued in court accumulate more billable hours than an out-of-court agreement and may also result in court and filing fees.

Depending on the legal fees and the complexity of the case a military divorce ranges from a few thousand dollars to many thousands. Speak to your divorce attorney about their fees and what to expect for your unique divorce case during the initial consultation.

How Military Divorces are Different

When one or both partners in a marriage are members of the military and the marriage has come to an end, the active duty status of one or both partners makes a difference in the following ways compared to a typical Colorado divorce:

  • How you file for divorce
  • Where you file
  • The timeline of the process
  • The division of marital assets, including a military retirement plan
  • Child custody

While a military divorce isn’t necessarily more difficult than a civilian divorce, there are specific rules that apply to active duty service members, including jurisdictional issues and unique residency requirements. In some cases, the military justice system may also become involved if the divorce proceedings include allegations of abuse, domestic violence, or adultery—all of which are crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Military divorces offer unique challenges for both spouses whether one or both are active duty service members. There are several military-specific issues that may arise in your military divorce.

Military Retirement Pay or Pensions

Colorado requires the equitable (fair) division of marital property. For many military spouses, the military retirement pension is one of their greatest marital assets. Only spouses married for 10 years or more are entitled to a share of a military spouse’s retirement pension, but the amount of retirement pay or disability pay may count toward income while determining child support.

Survivor Benefits

A military member’s survivor benefit plan is subject to distribution in a divorce. This is typically accomplished through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) which awards the ex-spouse a portion of the benefits.

Base Privileges

Most divorced spouses of military members lose their military benefits after the final divorce decree, including base housing, commissary privileges, post-exchange privileges, and housing allowance.

Typically, divorced spouses have 30 days to leave military housing after a divorce. Only in long-term marriages under specific circumstances can a divorced military spouse retain their ID card and privileges. Under the 20/20/15 rule, a spouse who was married to a member of the military for 20 years, the spouse had at least 20 years of service, and there was at least a 15-year overlap of the military service and marriage may keep their military entitlements.

Remarriage after a military divorce in Colorado automatically ends all military privileges.

Medical Care

Military medical privileges may extend for 3 years under the Continued Healthcare Benefit Program. Spouses married for 20 years or more remain covered under Tricare for life. The military divorce lawyers at the Denver law firm of Ciancio, Ciancio, Brown, P.C. offer personalized solutions for active duty members or their spouses who are seeking a divorce or responding to a petition for divorce.

Custody in a Military Divorce

Child custody and parenting time plans may be more complex in military divorces when one or both parents have active duty status. Colorado courts always prioritize the child’s best interest when deciding matters of child custody. As in any divorce, the parents themselves can draft their own child custody agreement for both physical custody and legal decision-making custody. There are several suggested schedules for sharing parenting time in Colorado that work for a variety of child age levels. If both parents are unable to reach a mutually acceptable decision, the court decides for them.

An active duty service member seeking custody must have an adequate care plan in place for child custody during deployment. Service members must also consider reassignments and their ramifications on a child’s primary residence.

The Uniform Deployed Parents’ Custody and Visitation Act puts protections in place for custodial parents to ensure that changes to living arrangements during deployment are only temporary. The Military Family Care Plan complements the court-ordered parenting time plan and comes into play only during deployment. There are also provisions for children to remain in contact with close relatives during a parent’s deployment.

Mother and daughter

Child Support in a Military Divorce

Colorado courts calculate child support amounts and determine which parent pays and which one receives child support through a set of guidelines that includes:

  •  Both parents’ incomes
  • The amount of parenting time each parent has with the children
  • The number of children

The court takes into account all of an active-duty military parent’s income, benefits, and any additional allowances such as combat pay and additional income during deployment when making a determination for child support. Speak with an experienced Denver child support lawyer to learn more about your possible child support payment obligations.

Spousal Support After a Military Divorce

If one spouse earns a significantly higher income than the other, the court may consider awarding temporary or permanent spousal support orders from the higher-income earner to the lower, in addition to child support. This is especially the case in divorce after a long-term marriage.

Spousal support may be required to bridge the gap in income-earning ability, especially in cases of one spouse choosing to stay home and raise children at the cost of their own career advancement opportunities, or one spouse financially supporting the other during training or education. Most spousal support orders are temporary, intending only to give the lower-earning spouse time to become self-sufficient.

Contact a Military Divorce Attorney in Denver Today

Most spouses know when it’s time to go their separate ways, but the decision to contact an attorney sometimes takes longer. Many spouses start out the separation process with high hopes of an amicable resolution, but uncontested divorces are the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, having an attorney on your side makes a tremendous difference in achieving your desired outcome—especially in the more complex legal matters associated with military divorces.

Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, a military divorce may take longer to navigate and finalize compared to a typical divorce. A military divorce comes with unique rules and legal considerations that differ from civilian divorces. An experienced military divorce attorney can streamline the process, deftly handle the legal matters unique to service members, and minimize costs, so you can focus on the emotional aspects of the divorce while your attorney represents your best interests throughout the legal aspects.