3 Unique Considerations in a Military Divorce

Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences that you will ever go through. Even in the best of circumstances it can be stressful, complicated, and heartbreaking. When one or both of the spouses is in the military, it can present many additional challenges. Understanding some of the unique aspects of a military divorce is very important, and will help you to avoid unnecessary mistakes or other issues.

Dividing Military Benefits

Most military benefits, including the pension, is to be treated as marital property during a divorce. The rule of thumb is typically going to be that if a marriage lasted ten years or longer, the pension will be divided in half. This, however, is negotiable and factors such as financial need, children, and total length of the marriage will be considered when deciding how much of the pension each spouse will receive. The pension doesn’t come active until the military spouse has served 20 years. In addition, the non-military spouse can’t get retiree pay until after the military spouse has applied for it, which may be well beyond 20 years of service.

20/20/20 Rule

For marriages that lasted twenty or more years, the ‘20/20/20’ rule applies and will be very important. This rule was created under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) and states that any former military spouse is entitled to receive full medical, exchange, and commissary privileges after the marriage has ended as long as the following three conditions were met:

  • Length of Marriage – The marriage must have lasted a minimum of twenty years
  • Credible Service – The spouse who was in the military must have completed a minimum of twenty years of credible service.
  • Overlap – There must have been a minimum of twenty years of overlap between the marriage and the credible military service.

Unique Custody Challenges

One of the most contentious issues of any divorce is going to be the custody of children. In military divorces, this can actually be somewhat easier. The non-military spouse will typically receive primary custody because they won’t need to be deployed or have to travel nearly as much, which will provide the kids with a more stable environment.

Most military custody orders do encourage some flexibility to help ensure the military parent is able to maintain a strong bond with their children, especially when they are at home. Just like a civilian divorce, however, the courts will look primarily at what is in the best interests of the children when making their orders.

Contact Us

If you are in the military and thinking about getting a divorce, you need to work with a family law attorney who has experience in this area. Contact E. Jones & Associates today to set up a consultation and learn about all your possible options.

E. Jones & Associates, LLC
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