Special Issues in Military Divorce

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce | 0 comments

Special Issues in Military Divorce

Even when it comes to dissolution of a marriage, the government sometimes gets involved. Military divorce is different from civilian divorce in many ways, from where to file to what happens to a person’s pension and other benefits. The government provides for both the service member and their spouses, especially if the service member is on active duty.


When you file for a civilian divorce, it is usually in the state where you lived as a couple. This is jurisdiction. But when it comes to military divorce where one or both spouses may be stationed in different states or even countries, deciding on where to file for divorce can be tricky. The laws of the state where the divorce is filed applies, which can have significant differences in terms of finances as well as rights.

Spousal and Child Support

Married military service personnel are governed by a set of laws designed specifically to address issues of divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), for example, is a federal law that addresses calculation of child and spousal support as well as the impact on military retirement pension, which is considered property rather than income.

Pension and Other Benefits

Under the USFSPA, a former spouse is entitled to a certain portion of a service member’s retirement pay. If the service member was on active duty for 10 years and had been married to the same spouse for that period or longer, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) pays in a portion of the retirement directly into the former spouse’s account. If the marriage was less than 10 years, the former spouse is still entitled to some portion of the retirement pay, but it will no longer be sent directly from the DFAS. Other benefits are treated based on state laws subject to special instructions for specific conditions.

Visitation Rights and Child Custody

When one or both parents are on active duty and constantly moving or deployed, coming to a realistic custodial and visitation schedule can be challenging. To resolve these and other issues, military divorce lawyers should be retained for the informed and experienced negotiation of an equitable settlement.

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