Some basic rights and responsibilities of military divorce

Some do not realize that military divorce it is governed by both state and unique federal laws. This means that the process varies from a standard, civilian divorce. If you are active in the military, your divorce may differ from traditional proceedings in a couple of ways.

The same is true if you are a spouse of an active member. For this reason, it is important to understand some of your rights and responsibilities, which may be affected in the process. For example, some issues that may differ from a civilian divorce concern jurisdiction, children-related matters and pension benefits.

Filing: There are often special jurisdictional concerns associated with military divorce. Generally, divorces are filed in the state where parties live or are stationed. On the other hand, some states permit the case be filed in the state where the military person anticipates living subsequent to discharge, if there is a sufficient "nexus" or "tie" to that state.

Children-related matters: Under the rules and regulations unique to this field, military members have the responsibility of supporting their family. In fact, the military strongly encourages service members to comply with all support, custody and visitation mandates. If one does not, he or she could be sanctioned.

State law often dictates the rules for child. However, there are specific guidelines for members, which include enforcing orders during deployment and calculating support amounts. Prudence dictates comparing the military rules to the state laws and complying with both sets of laws.

Pension benefits: The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act controls the division of military pension benefits. The law allows for a portion of a military retiree's pay to be paid to the former spouse (a benefit to those with service spouses). Under the law, state courts may also divide military-based retirement benefits as either separate property (of the serviceperson) or marital property. Parties are also usually permitted to agree to those divisions in their mediations.

Furthermore, the law provides former spouses the right to obtain medical, commissary and exchange privileges when the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • The couple was married for two decades or more
  • The military member completed at least 20 years of service, and there was a 20-year overlap or more of the marriage and service

If you are eligible for a military divorce, you may reap particular privileges available under federal law. The United States appreciates members' time in service. However, with these rights come specific responsibilities. Therefore, you may benefit from securing the assistance of a qualified family law attorney. A lawyer can help ensure that your transition into a new beginning is met with ease.