Filing for divorce from a member of the armed forces poses a number of challenges that aren’t generally present in a traditional divorce. If you aren’t aware of these challenges, you could be facing an uphill battle. If you’re thinking about ending your marriage to a service member, it’s important that you be aware of the issues ahead.
Lengthy Divorce Process
When divorcing a service member, be prepared to hurry up and wait. The Service Member’s Relief Act provides a protection for members that are currently away on an overseas assignment. In the event the service member is deployed or receives orders to an overseas duty station, the clock basically stops while they are gone.
If you are dealing with a spouse who doesn’t want to divorce you, they could use this to make things difficult for you by taking an overseas assignment for the sole purpose of putting off the divorce. Save yourself undue stress and be realistic about the possibility that your divorce could take a while to finalize.
For military marriages, the civilian spouse will not be entitled to a portion of their spouse’s retirement pension unless the marriage lasted at least 10 years, with 10 years of overlapping service from the member. In simpler terms, in addition to being married for at least 10 years, 10 of those years had to occur while your spouse was serving.
For example, a marriage can last for 15 years, but if the service member only served 9 years during this period, you would not qualify for benefits. While your marriage should never be about money, you should be realistic about what you stand to lose should you end your marriage before this point.
A service member’s paycheck contains a number of different entitlements that can fluctuate often. Basic Pay, Combat Pay and BAH are just some of them. Understand how these entitlements effect their income. Take BAH, a payment given to assist with cost of living expenses based on the zip code of their assigned duty station, for example.
A service member that transfers from Iowa to New York City shorty after you file for divorce will likely experience a significant pay increase due to higher living costs. If you fail to take this into consideration, you could be left with spousal or child support that is well under the amount you might actually be due.
Any divorce can be difficult, but the sensitivities that come along with military divorce can be especially excruciating. It’s a good idea to work with an attorney, such as Myers Law Firm LLC, if you think divorce might be on your horizon.