What You Need to Know About Military Divorce

Written by Jonathan Breeden

January 17, 2018

If you or your spouse are in the military and you want to file for divorce, you need to speak with a military divorce lawyer. Your situation has numerous special considerations that a divorce outside of the military does not. From when you can file for divorce to how you divide retirement savings, the military will impact your divorce proceedings.

The best way to handle all of these issues is to work with a divorce attorney at Breeden Law Office who understands military divorce and can tell you want you need to know. Call us today at (919) 661-4970 to schedule a consultation.

Location of the Divorce

Most people only have one place to file for divorce and that is where they live. However, when the military is involved, where you currently live and your permanent address may be different. If you live on the base where you or your spouse are stationed, you may be able to file in that state. If you or your spouse’s permanent address is in a different state, you may also be able to file in the county of that residence. If you have already separated and moved to a new state, you will be able to file there after a certain period of time. Always speak to a military divorce attorney about where you can file and which jurisdiction may be best for your situation.

When to File for Divorce

When discussing where you should file for divorce, you also need to discuss when filing should occur. Federal law protects service members from being sued while they are deployed and are unable to appropriately respond to a suit. If you want to file for divorce and your spouse is currently deployed, then you need to wait to file until a certain period of time has passed since the end of the deployment.

The same law also enables your spouse to request a “stay” of the proceedings for 90 days when their military duties interfere with their ability to participate. If you file for divorce and your spouse needs to leave for certain training, then they can delay the divorce.

Child Custody and Support

Your spouse’s military service may impact the child custody schedule you two share. However, a judge cannot use the fact that your spouse is deployed or may be deployed against them. The fact that your child’s other parent has a demanding position and schedule cannot be used as leverage to deny them custody or visitation. However, it may be a factor when you and your spouse discuss the co-parenting agreement that is best for your child. A military divorce lawyer can help you negotiate an arrangement that works well for your child and takes the military into consideration without punishing the other parent for their service.

As for child support, this is dictated by state law. Complexities may arise when it comes to calculating your spouse’s pay, however a military divorce lawyer at Breeden Law Office is well-versed in the compensation is used in the calculation. Your attorney can also help you obtain a wage garnishment from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service so that you receive child support directly.

Health Care Coverage

As a non-military spouse, you may have two options for receiving health care through the military after your divorce. If you were married for at least 20 years, your spouse served for at least 20 years, and the marriage and service overlapped for at least 20 years, then you may be able to obtain coverage under TRICARE, also known as the 20/20/20 rule. If you are not eligible for TRICARE, you can discuss purchasing coverage under Continued Health Care Benefit Program.

Retirement Savings

When getting a divorce, a major concern is always ensuring that you walk away with a fair share of retirement savings. If your spouse is in the military, this may include their pension and a thrift savings plan (TSP). State law dictates whether your spouse’s pension is individual or marital property, and whether it can be divided. Your spouse can also always consent to divide their pension. A TSP can also be divided in a property settlement. However, dividing these assets can become complicated. You will need a military divorce attorney to guide you through these discussions.

You also need to discuss a survivor benefit plan, which would pay out to the beneficiary after your spouse passes away. This may be something you request your spouse to purchase during divorce proceedings to protect your financial future.

Contact a Military Divorce Attorney Today

When your spouse is in the military and you want to file for divorce, you have to deal with many additional factors. Your divorce will be more complicated than if you neither of you were in the military. However, that does not mean your divorce has to be lengthy or overly stressful. With a military divorce attorney from Breeden Law Office guiding you through this process, all of the nuances will be addressed upfront and you can avoid unnecessary delays or disputes.

To learn more about how we can help during a military divorce, whether you or your spouse is the service member, contact us at (919) 661-4970 today.


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