Families with military personnel in them face many unique challenges. There are the issues of moving around as service people get transferred, there may be long periods away during deployment, and of course, the stress they are in harm’s way as they serve our country. Not surprisingly, the stress involved in these unique circumstances can lead military couples to file for divorce.
The U.S. military lets states handle divorce whenever possible, but there is also federal law in place specifically designed to address specific issues. One example is that couples may not be in the same town during the divorce process because of their deployment. It also addresses how non-military spouses get payment for support, dividing retirement benefits and how the Defense Finance and Account Service (DFAS) works if the marriage lasted longer than ten years.
It is also relevant to note that Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) authorizes state divorce courts to approve a fractional split of marital assets and benefits. It also permits the military’s paymaster to mail the approved payment directly to the former spouse, so the spouse does not need an ex to send support payments.
The numbers mean something in dividing assets
Military terminology often draws upon numbers to explain things. Military divorce is no different:
10/10: This refers to the fact that military spouses are only entitled to benefits if they have been married at least 10 years with one or both spouses serving at least 10 years.
20/20/20 benefits: This means that couples were married for 20 years with at least one member serving for 20 years and they overlapped for at least 20 years. This enables the non-military spouse to retain some benefits if they do not remarry. These include the health plan and retaining DoD military ID card that gains them access to bases and commissary facilities.
20/20/15 benefits: The same equation as above with 20 years of service and 20 years of marriage, but the marriage had 15 years where it overlapped with service. Kids retain the above benefits, but spouses lose theirs after the divorce is final.
We support our military
Littman Family Law offers a 10% discount to military personnel, active or honorably discharged, as well as their families.