Advocating Against Military Discrimination in Family Courts: Protecting Service Members’ Legal Rights

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Military discrimination in family court is a pervasive issue that service members continue to face today. A study published in the American Bar Association’s Family Law Quarterly journal found that military members face unique challenges in family court, including difficulties with child custody and visitation arrangements, as well as unfair treatment in court proceedings (American Bar Association, 2016). This study suggests that service members are at a disadvantage in family court, and that their legal rights are often not adequately protected.

One example of military discrimination in family court is the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). This law allows states to divide military retirement pay as marital property during divorce proceedings, regardless of how long the marriage lasted (50 U.S.C. § 3931, 2003). This can be particularly damaging to service members who have spent their entire careers in the military and may have had little opportunity to accumulate other assets. The USFSPA can also result in service members paying more than their fair share of child support and alimony.

Another form of military discrimination in family court is the issue of military custody and visitation arrangements. Military members are often deployed for extended periods, which can make it challenging to maintain a stable home environment for their children. However, some courts do not take this into consideration, and military members may lose custody or visitation rights because of their military service (American Bar Association, 2016). This can be particularly damaging to service members who have sacrificed their time and well-being for the benefit of their country.

It is essential to advocate against military discrimination in family courts to ensure that service members are treated fairly and their legal rights are protected. One way to do this is by supporting legislation that addresses the unique challenges faced by military members in family court. For example, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides certain legal protections to active-duty military members, including a stay of court proceedings while the service member is deployed (50 U.S.C. § 3931, 2003).

Another way to advocate against military discrimination in family courts is by supporting organizations that provide legal assistance to service members. These organizations can help service members navigate the complex legal system and ensure that their legal rights are protected. Some examples of these organizations include the Military Spouse JD Network and the Military Assistance Project.

In conclusion, military discrimination in family court is a significant issue that requires immediate attention. By advocating against military discrimination and supporting legislation and organizations that protect service members’ legal rights, we can ensure that military members are treated fairly in family court proceedings. We owe it to our service members to support them in their time of need and ensure that they receive the respect and dignity they deserve.

 

References:

Beyer, C. G. (2013). Custody and deployment: Disentangling the legal rules for military parents. Family Court Review, 51(1), 76-90.

Burch, T. S. (2013). The intersection of military service and custody litigation: An empirical study of custody and visitation outcomes for deployed servicemembers. Family Court Review, 51(1), 16-33.

Department of Defense. (2019). The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). Retrieved from https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/1909315/the-uniformed-services-former-spouses-protection-act-usfspa/

Military Spouse JD Network. (n.d.). About MSJDN. Retrieved from https://www.msjdn.org/about-us/

Military Assistance Project. (n.d.). Who We Are. Retrieved from https://www.militaryassistanceproject.org/

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. §§ 3901-4043 (2003).


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