Divorce is never an easy proposition, but for those who are in the military there are certain rules and regulations that can complicate matters further. Some of the complexities of military divorce arise as a result of the fact that military personnel who are on active duty may be living in a remote area. Other aspects that need to be taken into consideration revolve around the many benefits to which military personnel and their family members are entitled. The legal aspect of a military divorce is no different from that of any other married couple, but the assets are more extensive, and there are highly specific rules in place for many of them. At Erik B. Jensen & Associates, we have assisted many families in navigating a military divorce with a minimum of frustration. Let’s take a look at some of the unique problems presented by a military divorce so that you will know what to anticipate, and plan accordingly.
The biggest hurdle in military divorce has traditionally been that of geography: when you are in two different parts of the world, the process is obviously more complicated. Add to that the fact that many states have residency requirements that can be difficult to meet when you have been through a relocation or one spouse is stationed overseas. Many states have addressed this issue, creating special allowances for those who are on active duty service.
The other unique factors involving military divorce are the rules regarding military benefits such as military retirement payments, the military thrift savings plan, survivor benefits plans, base privileges and TRICARE. The military’s rules with regards to these benefits are contained in a federal statute known as the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. This law sets forth that military members are to accept state statues when it comes to issues such as spousal support, child support and pay and pension. Here are some of the specific areas that are addressed and rules that have been established:
- Ex-spouses of military members can receive a direct payment of a portion of a service member’s retirement payments if the couple was married for ten years overlapping with ten years of service. The payment cannot exceed 50 percent of the retirement pay. If child support is to be deducted from the pension, the maximum that can be deducted is 65 percent.
- The distribution of assets in a thrift savings plan is to be handled in the same way that a 401K is.
- Survivor Benefits are not in place following a divorce unless they are specifically addressed in a divorce settlement.
- Base privileges are only available to those who have been married for 20 years, whose spouse was in the military for 20 years, and for whom the marriage overlapped the time in service for 20 years. The same is true of eligibility for TRICARE, though transitional coverage is available if the marriage overlaps the time in service by at least 15 years.
The compassionate attorneys at Erik B. Jensen know the ins and outs of military divorce and can help you to address all of the issues in a way that allows you to move ahead with your life. Call us today to set up a convenient time to meet.