Families with servicemen and servicewomen face challenges not experienced by civilian families. Of course, the parent or parents who serve risk their lives in the line of duty. There are also the long periods where they are deployed, and families end up moving regularly as the parent moves from base to base. This all can put an incredible strain upon families, which may lead to divorce.
Active and retired military personnel face some specific and unique issues when they file for divorce:
- Where to file: The couple may be in a different town, state or country than a resident. Moreover, the spouses may not be in the same place when they file if one is deployed. At least one spouse must be a resident of Colorado, have a matrimonial domicile here, or there must be some basis for the court to exercise jurisdiction.
- Custody: The couple will need to determine which state will have jurisdiction over the custody agreement. Drafting parenting plans will be complicated, but active servers have custody rights and need to provide a family care plan for times of deployment.
- Benefits: Spouses married over ten years to military personnel have legal rights to a percentage of income, savings and assets. Moreover, healthcare, access to the commissary and retirement benefits are all protected by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act.
- Disability: The notable exception to the above benefits is disability benefits, which are not considered a marital asset to divide. However, these benefits do count as income and will impact custody and child support.
- When to file: A military spouse cannot file without a spouse’s consent if they are deployed.
Planning a military divorce in Colorado
The state applies the same residency guidelines, division of assets and custody to military couples as they do for civilian couples. Still, they need to address the above issues. As with civilian couples, it is often best to embrace mediation in resolving disputes, particularly if a spouse is deployed on a ship or in a foreign country because the discussion and negotiation are not tied to a divorce court schedule.