When you marry, divorce is probably not something you think about. However, divorce does eventually happen for some military spouses.
Even while the majority of military marriages succeed, it’s crucial to know your rights if a divorce does happen. No of the circumstances, divorce is unpleasant and difficult, but for military couples, there are extra factors at play that could lead to further difficulties.
Obtaining Legal Counsel
The service member and their spouse are both free to consult with civil lawyers. The on-base legal services might also be used, though. These free services frequently aid people in understanding the divorce procedure.
However, a military-affiliated lawyer is only permitted to represent one spouse in a divorce. If there is only one attorney present, first-come, first-served applies. It could be wise to visit the JAG or SJA office as soon as possible to get your representation if divorce is on your mind.
Additionally, military attorneys are not permitted to represent clients in civil court cases. This implies that if base legal services can aid in the beginning of the process, you will probably need to hire a civilian lawyer to see the divorce through to its conclusion.
Benefits for Military Spouses Following Divorce
Former wives of military members who have divorced may be eligible for payments under a very particular set of conditions. It’s known as the 20/20/20 rule.
- For at least 20 years, you were married to a service member.
- The service member has at least 20 years of military experience.
- During their active military duty, you were married to the service member for at least 20 years.
If all three of these conditions are true, you could be eligible to keep using the commissary, PX, medical services, and other on-base amenities like the theatre or gym. However, you will also lose these advantages if you get remarried.
You cannot receive military benefits after divorce if you do not meet all three requirements.
Military Divorce While Deployed Abroad
When you are stationed abroad, US courts do not recognize international divorce proceedings, therefore you and your spouse must return home to finalize the divorce.
Consult with the base legal office, if at all possible, to establish the next steps before starting divorce proceedings while OCONUS.
In rare situations, family members and their belongings may return to the US before the service member. Typically, the service member may be obliged to return to base quarters if this occurs as a result of a separation or the start of a divorce. To learn the regulations and what to do next, get in touch with your neighborhood housing office.
The divorce can be concluded in your state, the service member’s home state, or the location of the service member’s upcoming US duty station.
Civilian Court Cases with a Military Flair
Divorce is often a civil judicial process. Meaning that both sides are represented by non-military attorneys in a regular courtroom.
The specifics of military life, though, may cause your divorce settlement to contain some different things.
- Custody agreements: When one parent must relocate due to military orders or is deployed, that fact should be taken into consideration. As a result, your custody agreement could not be the traditional 50/50 split or weekends-and-holidays arrangements.
- Military retirement: According to the American Bar Association, these assets less specific deductions can be divided if your soon-to-be ex-spouse has been contributing to TSP or may have acquired military retirement after 20 or more years of service, typically after 10 years of marriage that overlaps with at least 10 years of active military service.
Facts About Divorce That Every Military Spouse Should Know
There are many misconceptions about divorce in the military. Additionally, some military members, especially those who are abusive already, could try to make the divorce process more difficult for their spouses.
Even if you do not meet the requirements of the 20/20/20 rule, you do not lose your military ID or benefits during a separation. Your spouse may still be required to pay you support. Your service member cannot take your dependant ID away because of this. Even if you aren’t currently cohabitating, they must nonetheless offer you housing assistance through BAH or OHA. The precise split of financial support needed is specified by each military branch.
You should get in touch with your service member’s commanding officer if they refuse to give you and/or your shared young children this financial support. The military unit should handle the conflict and offer options for resolving it.
While there are many tools available to assist military spouses seeking a divorce, there are also ways to mend fences before calling it quits.