Divorce never happens at an opportune time.
In fact, it always comes at the worst time.
For a member of the military, that worst time is on deployment.
You’re homesick, isolated, lonely, bored, sometimes scared.
Then, bam! You get divorce papers.
You’re supposed to respond within thirty days, but you just don’t have it in you, or you can’t find an attorney because you’re halfway across the world.
Whatever the reason, you don’t respond soon enough, and your wife files for default and gets it, which means she gets everything she asked for in her divorce papers.
This usually means she gets the kids, alimony, child support, the house, and at least half of your military retirement.
Now, you’re about to come home (or you’re already home) and you don’t know what to do.
What can you do?
The Utah Service Members’ Civil Relief Act
In Utah, if you’ve been called to active military service by the governor, there is a law that protects you during your military deployment.
It’s called the Utah Service Members’ Civil Relief Act (USMCRA).
Among other things, the USMCRA “suspend[s] or postpone actions upon those obligations [ i.e., civil obligation you cannot perform because of military service] until 60 days after discharge from active, full-time, military service.”
In other words, if you cannot do certain things because you’re deployed, the USMCRA postpones your duty to do those things until after your service ends.
One of the USMCRA provisions that directly protects a military member on deployment is about default judgments.
Here’s what the law says:
39-7-104. Reopening default judgments.
|A default judgment rendered in any civil action against a service member during a period of military service or within 30 days after termination of the military service may be set aside if:
|it appears that the person was prejudiced by reason of his military service in making a defense to the action;
|application by the person or his legal representative is made to the court rendering the judgment not later than 60 days after the termination of the military service; and
|the application provides enough facts that it appears that the defendant has a meritorious or legal defense to the action or some part of the action.
In other words, if your wife defaulted you while you were on deployment, you may be able to have that default thrown out.
This means you could reopen your divorce and fight for a fair resolution.
Move Quick To Overturn that Default
You have to move quickly to overturn that Utah divorce default, though.
The USMCRA allows only sixty days for you to file with the court to have the default overturned.
If you’re wife defaulted you while you were on deployment, you may be able to overturn the default and try for a fair settlement in your divorce.
Do it quick, though. You only have sixty days.
Call Brown Family Law
If you find yourself facing a Utah divorce, please call 801.685.9999 for a legal in-person consultation, or use our online scheduling tool.