Military Divorce and the Division of Military Benefits After Divorce

Divorce is pretty complicated, and military divorces are even more complex. When one or both partners are active duty, several different laws govern how divorce and property division are handled. From determining where to file for divorce, what property can be divided, and how it will be divided, there are a lot of situations that differ from a typical civilian divorce. An experienced San Diego divorce lawyer can help you better understand the differences between a military divorce and a common divorce. They can also help you better understand the military divorce process, the steps that you need to take, and all that will go into it.

Where Do I File for Military Divorce?

When filing for divorce, whether military or civilian, the courts will need to claim jurisdiction over your proceedings. This means you must fulfill certain residency requirements. In a military divorce, you have several choices:

  • File in the state where you currently live.
  • File in the state where you’re a resident.
  • File in the state you and your spouse agree upon.

In whichever state you choose to file, it will be the one that governs your divorce. You’ll be expected to obey by the laws of that state regardless of the state in which you married. Additionally, there is an act that protects spouses of U.S. military members. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) oversees certain types of military pay and benefits, and how they’re handled during a divorce.

How Military Retirement Pay Is Divided

The USFSPA defines military retirement pay as marital property in the event of a divorce. This means it’s considered joint property; thus, it can be divided by the court. It doesn’t guarantee the non-military partner will be given a portion; it’s just an option. Under this law, retirement pay is treated just like any civilian property: it can be divided, and it can be garnished for child support or alimony purposes.

Property will be divided based on state laws where you file for divorce. Though you can come to an agreement together, it’s ultimately up to the court to identify how retirement wages will be divided. Furthermore, non-military spouses can also be identified as a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) beneficiary. The beneficiary would continue to receive income from the retired service member in the event of his or her death. Upon divorce, the service member can elect to provide this coverage to a former spouse within one year.

How Military Health Benefits Are Divided

Former spouses may continue to receive military health benefits from the service member. There are several requirements you must fulfill, however:

  • You must have been married for at least 20 years.
  • The military member must have provided at least 20 years of service.
  • The time of service and length of marriage overlapped for at least 20 years.
  • Neither you nor the other spouse remarried.
  • You haven’t enrolled in an employee health plan.

This is known as the 20/20/20 rule, and it applies to many aspects of military divorce. For example, you may qualify for Post Exchange and Commissary benefits under this rule. Additionally, the 20/20/20 rule will allow you to keep and continue to use your military ID after the divorce. Dependent children don’t need to fall into any category. Any child who’s a legal dependent of the military serviceperson will continue to receive benefits until the age of 22 or until married.

Boyd Law: San Diego Military Divorce Lawyers

As you can imagine, military divorce can get extremely complicated very quickly. Therefore, it’s best to consult with an experienced San Diego military divorce attorney who understands specific rules encompassing military divorce. This helps ensure you have the best possible outcome. Boyd Law family attorneys in San Diego, CA, has ample experience in military divorce law. Contact us today for help with identifying and dividing your assets. We can also help you with any other legal counsel you may need.