Importance Of Choosing The Right Attorney For A Military Divorce

Divorce is never easy, but in the case of a military divorce, there are some factors that need to be taken into consideration that aren't typically an issue with a divorce that doesn't involve any military personnel. Because of this, it's important to choose the right divorce attorney.

Where to File

One of the first things to decide in a military divorce is which state to file for divorce in. With military couples, it can be the state where the military person is stationed, the state where the military spouse is a legal resident or the state where the non-military spouse lives if this is different. Divorce laws vary in each state, so it makes sense to choose the state that is most advantageous to the person filing.

When to File

It may not be possible to divorce a military man or woman while they are on active duty overseas or in another state as it may interfere with their military duties. A law called the Service Members' Civil Relief Act may be used to prevent the divorce from proceeding until the 60 days past the end of his or her period of active duty or enlistment.

Potential Military Benefits

Another consideration when filing for a military divorce is whether any military benefits of a former spouse will apply. If the military spouse served for at least 20 years, the marriage lasted at least this long and the military service and marriage overlapped for at least 20 years, the former spouse can have full medical, commissary and exchange privileges even after the divorce. These end if the non-military former spouse gets remarried, but can resume again should this 2nd marriage end.

Pension Benefits

For career military personnel, the court may decide to divide the military pension between the spouses. This has to be addressed during the court proceedings, however, or it may not be possible to get this benefit after the fact. It could result in the non-military spouse getting a set amount of money from the pension, a set percentage of the pension or some other assets in place of their share of the pension. If getting a portion of the pension, the attorney will need to send the court order to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to make it so this portion of the pension will be paid directly to you. There are some circumstances when direct pay isn't possible, and in those situations, it may be easier to go with the option to accept other assets in place of your share of the pension during the court case.