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What military service members should know about divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2021 | Divorce

Military life often is hard on marriages. Those who have served multiple overseas deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait over the last two decades have spent months away from their spouses and families. A military wife who has had to uproot herself and her family multiple times over the years may be tired of it and ready to move on. A service member finally may retire and realize he and his spouse no longer have anything in common.

Military service members and divorce considerations

Military service members face some unique challenges in divorce. First, it may take months longer for a service member’s divorce to become finalized if the solider is serving overseas or completing required training away from their home base.

Second, current service members with children will have to come to a special child custody agreement. Part of that agreement needs to address how child custody or visitation will work if a spouse is deployed. If both parents are in the military, they will need to name someone to care for their child if they both are deployed at the same time. Also, if you are a service member going through divorce and establishing a custody agreement, you may want your agreement to include language that prohibits your spouse from modifying your custody order while you are serving an active deployment.

Finally, if a service member is retired, their retirement income is seen as an asset, not income, according to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act. That means a former military spouse can receive a portion of their ex’s income in divorce. If you were married at least 10 years and you were in the military for 10 of those years, your former spouse can receive some of your retirement income directly from the Defense Accounting Service (DFAS). The maximum amount of military retirement pay a former spouse can receive is 50%. If you receive retirement pay and don’t pay your child support, DFAS can deduct that straight from you payments.

Getting help with your military divorce

Anyone facing divorce needs to consult with an experienced family law attorney. That is especially important for service members who may need a special child custody agreement or will have their retirement pay impacted through divorce.

Just as you want someone to have your back while you are on duty, you want someone who will have your back in a divorce. Your divorce attorney can be that person as you divide your assets with your spouse, settle your child custody agreement and move forward with your life.