Serving in the military can be tough on a marriage. It requires time apart from a spouse, and the burden of child care put all on one parent. These circumstances can be a breeding ground for loneliness and resentment that can tear a couple apart. When that happens, going through a divorce when one member is in uniform is also more complex than when civilians divorce. Here are three ways military divorce is different:
1. Different spousal support, child custody and child support issues.
Deployments mean one parent has been the primary caregiver, which could impact his or her ability to obtain a degree to find a career to support themselves. It also means equal parenting time isn’t often an option because one parent is away so frequently. It takes a true examination of the issues to find agreements on these matters. An attorney who has helped other individuals in similar situations can offer creative solutions.
2. Both state and federal laws govern military divorce.
For example, laws in Alaska on spousal support would pertain to a Fort Richardson couple who is divorcing. However, federal law also can impact a divorce, such as when dividing a pension.
3. It can be more complicated to divide assets.
Those who had active service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines for 20 years or more qualify for military retirement pay. One of the ways federal law comes into play in a military divorce is regarding this pension. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act, or USFSPA, says that military pensionscan be considered marital property that can be divided in a divorce. The amount a spouse is entitled to varies based on length of service and length of the marriage.
Because retirement can be one of your most valuable assets in a divorce, you should consult an attorney highly experienced in military divorce for guidance on how to protect your rights.
Divorce is never easy, but these are a few of the ways military personnel and their spouses face more challenges than most when going through the process. Even so, it is possible to reach agreements on these matters. Doing so will allow both individuals and their children to move on toward a better future.