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Military Divorce: What You Need To Know

Military Divorce: What You Need To Know

Filing for divorce when one spouse is in the military adds an extra layer of complexity into the divorce filing process. Multiple states are often involved, as well as important assets such as the military pension. Below are key factors in a military divorce that are helpful to know.

The first thing to determine when filing for divorce when one or both spouses are in the military is where the divorce should be filed. The law usually allows for the filing of a divorce in the state where either spouse has legal residence, as long as they’ve lived there for at least 6 months. If you are a military member and are deployed, you have a few options for jurisdiction when filing for divorce. These options might include filing in the state where you last resided for at least 6 months, filing in the home state where you pay taxes, allowing your spouse to file where he or she resides, or even filing in the state where you are stationed, as long as you are stationed in the United States.

Next, you should consider taking a look at the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) and how that may affect the division of assets. This Act is a federal law that addresses questions about former spouses’ eligibility for privileges such as commissary and exchange, health care coverage and other benefits, and military retirement pay. Under the Act, for example, it states that the state of legal residence of the military member always has the power to divide the military pension in a divorce. So, if the divorce is filed in the state that is not the military member’s state of legal residence, then the court may not have the authority to divide the pension.

One other wrinkle with military divorce comes when marital property needs to be divided up. Specifically, this becomes more of an issue when dealing with military retirement benefits, an often heated debate. In short, military retirement benefits are subject to division as marital property, but military disability benefits are not. These two will come in contact when a service member opts to change their retirement payout from the retirement benefits to disability benefits. This means that what a spouse originally thought they were entitled to may not be the case anymore. Overall, it is vital to understand how benefit plans are labeled.

Navigating a military divorce can be a difficult process if one or both spouses are in the military. If you have questions regarding a military divorce, contact the experienced Indiana family law attorneys of McNeely Law.

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