Military divorce is defined as a divorce where one of the parties is a “service member,” whether active duty military, reserve or guard or retired military. This is not a “legal” term recognized within the courts, but instead it is a lay term simply used to describe a divorce where one of the parties is a service member, regardless of the member’s status.
Being a service couple does not exempt the parties from the same requirements that civilian couples must meet when filing for divorce. However, there are some states that have relaxed the residency requirements for active duty service personnel who want to file for divorce in the state in which they are stationed.
Military couples will also go through the same procedural process when divorcing. But they must also be aware that there are other factors that the typical civilian couple will not have to address, and which may prolong the process because of the very nature of one of the party’s military service, such as an active duty assignment in a remote area or a permanent station overseas.
Besides understanding the basic divorce process, it is imperative that military couples are knowledgeable in the factors that will affect their divorce as a result of military service. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), for example, is a federal law which permits states to award up to 50 percent of the military member’s retired pay (or up to 65 percent including court-ordered child support) in a divorce. Your attorney’s knowledge of this law must be the cornerstone of your representation; if it is not, you may end up paying thousands of dollars more than you should because your attorney is not experienced in this specialized area of family law, and you end up having to “educate” your own attorney at your expense.
Couples may need to negotiate the monetary loss of federal benefits. The non-military spouse needs to be aware of all sources of income for the active duty service members, such as special pays. Having a lawyer familiar with these benefits and experienced in these negotiations is imperative.
Our legal staff has a wide variety of experience in military divorces. We would be glad to review your case with you and to represent you during this difficult time.