Contrary to what some people believe, a military divorce is not similar to a civilian divorce. There are unique laws and circumstances involved.
Guide to Military Divorce
While different, military divorce entails a similar process as civilian divorces. What primarily makes a military divorce different is that military personnel and their partners are eligible to a pension or retirement pay. This is considered a devisable asset during the divorce proceedings.
A court must initially have the jurisdiction to hear the case before granting a military divorce. While civilians consider jurisdiction as the place where one or both spouses live (their legal residence), that is not the case when one or both spouses are in the military. For military personnel, the place where they hold legal residence may be a very different location from where they are stationed.
Most commonly, military members and their spouses have 3 options when choosing which state to file for a military divorce in.
- It can be in the state in which they live,
- Where the military spouse has their legal residency, or
- Where the military spouse is stationed.
The matter of determining child custody, alimony, distribution, property distribution, and other important issued are handled by the divorce laws of the state where the divorce petition is filed.
Child Support And Visitation
In a military divorce, the issue of who will get custody of the children is essentially becoming more intricate. This is true especially when one partner is active military personnel, who may not be home as frequently as the other spouse. More likely, the parent who is not in the military is granted full child custody (or “parental responsibility”) due to the fact that they can provide more stability to the children under their marriage. Custody, in this sense, meaning primary decision making (i.e. education, religion, medical decisions, etc.).
Active duty service members, unfortunately, may not always be granted even partial parental responsibility because their obligation to their country could interfere with the timing or need for a major parental decision.
However, courts understand that children are better when both parents are provided the opportunity to be in their life. While a military spouse may be limited in deciding which school or doctor to send their child to, they usually are afford a reasonable time-sharing that takes their obligations into account while not holding it against them in judgement.
The 10/10/10 Rule
The court system and judges are allowed by The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act to view military retirement benefits as a form of marital property under specific conditions. Parents who stay at home throughout the entire marriage can be provided with a much brighter economic stance.
Requirements to become qualified for the 10/10/10 rule:
- You should be married for at least 10 years
- Your partner must have 10 creditable service years in the armed forces
- The 10 years of service and 10 years of marriage should overlap
Be noted that this rule does not completely guarantee non-military spouses any amount of retirement funds. The judge or the state laws within the area you file still has the final decision about your share. Some military spouses obtain half of the pension funds, while others choose to accept a lower retirement money percentage in exchange for a more valued asset at the present moment (like the home or car).
The 20/20/20 Rule
Under this rule, a military spouse might also be entitled to continued benefits including base privileges and TRICARE health insurance. However, you need to meet the requirement in terms of the length of the marriage and service commitment.
- You should be married at least 20 years
- The service member should have completed at least 20 years of creditable service
- The 20 years of service and 20 years of marriage should overlap
Besides the length of the marriage and service commitment, you cannot remarry as well – at least not if you wish to maintain the benefits. The healthcare and base privileges are revoked if you remarry.
Get Legal Help From An Experienced Military Divorce Attorney
Whether it is you or your spouse who is a retired or an active duty military member, getting an experienced divorce attorney help expoetially to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair divorce settlement.