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  • Active Duty Military Divorce Laws
  • Military Divorce Retirement & Pension
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Avoid These Military Divorce Mistakes and More, Today!

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As a military service member, and even the spouse of one, your life in getting a divorce is going to become complicated for a short time. Military retirement, disability earnings, along with your regular benefits if you are a military reservist getting divorced, will all have an impact on you and your soon to be ex-spouse.

State law and local procedures govern divorce, but there are certain federal statutes and military regulations that may apply to your divorce, depending on where you file.

How Long Does a Military Divorce Take?

Military divorces can take longer by the complications from one person being either deployed or serving overseas. Military obligations may prevent them from making court appearances.

Like any divorce, the matter, if uncontested could take a matter of weeks. However, if anything is contested like a military pension it could draw out for months, even years.

Service members serving on active duty, and deployment, have some protections against state court orders and official proceedings.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SRCA) can apply a court stay for things like child custody hearings while on active duty. In some cases this could be extended for another 90 days if the court approves.

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Spousal Entitlements​ & Pension in a Military Divorce

You should familiarize yourself with the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) which is a federal law providing certain benefits to former spouses of members of our military.

As an example as an un-remarried former spouse, you might be eligible for medical, commissary, exchange, and theater privileges under the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program.

There are some requirements like the 20/20/20 rule:

  • Were you married to the service member for at least 20 years at the time of the divorce?
  • Has the military service member, based on retirement pay determination, performed at least 20 years of service?
  • Have you been married to them for at least 20 years of the member’s retirement-creditable service?

 

As a soon to be former spouse, you may be entitled to TRICARE coverage:

  • 20 years of creditable service
  • Married at least 20 years
  • The years of marriage overlapped the period of service by at least 15 years

 

Under this last rule of 20/20/15, you probably won’t have access to the military exchange, installation privileges, or commissary privileges.

Military retirement pay may be determined as either sole or community property dependent upon the state you are filing for divorce in.

There isn’t a set formula for dividing the retirement pension within the military. You can read more about this in the USFSPA.

If you were married at least 10 years which overlapped by 10 years of service, the retirement pay will be handled directly by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).

How to File for Divorce in the Military

If you’re like most people and you want to avoid all the extra complications it will probably be best to file for divorce in the U.S.A. Also be aware if you file overseas that future problems may arise if the U.S. Courts don’t recognize your foreign divorce.

You can file for divorce in either the state where the service members is currently stationed or where the service member claims their legal residency, or where the non-military spouse resides legally.

Child support and child custody in the matter of a military divorce will be handled by the state law. It’s unlikely a court will award full custody to a military member who may become deployed. Each military service will have rules or guidelines on how much a parent should pay to support their children. Your installations legal assitance office can help with these calculations.

Ordinarily, final child support will be based upon:

  • Total Benefit Entitlements
  • Base Pay
  • Basic Allowance for Housing
  • Basic Allowance for Subsistence
  • Special Pay
  • and, TRICARE coverage for the child

 

When your court issues a child support order, and the amount is to be garnished and sent to you by DFAS you’ll need more than a mere copy of the child support order. Your installation JAG or legal assistance office can explain what will be needed for a DFAS pay center garnishment.

Long Distance Parenting Plan

There is a great probability if one of the parents is a current service member serving in our Armed Forces there will be some sort of long-distance parenting plan. If not, that is a great thing as your child needs both parents regardless of what you may think of each other during this time. Be prepared with parenting plans during the long term planning due to a future deployment or change to duty station.
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Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman or Spouse of the Military Service Member

There are many options available for military divorce solutions. Remember that you may be operating under two sets of rules, and possibly those of a foreign country as well. Your best option for a successful military divorce is working with a professional who understands each set of rules and unfortunately in your case that may mean hiring two sets of professionals.

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