Although a civilian divorce is complicated and can be stressful, a military divorce can be even more so. This is because a military divorce is regulated not by just the state but also the federal courts.
With that said, it is recommended that spouses in a military marriage find an attorney who has had experience in this area because it can be quite complicated.
Let me share some things for you to think about in this type of situation.
First, there’s the division of retirement dollars in the divorce. The first calculation is taking the number of years the soldier spent in the military while married and dividing that by all the years he or she served. So if the soldier was active in the military for say 3 years before they married someone and then spent another 15 years in the military before retiring, then 83.3% of the retirement pay is divisible to both partners. This figure comes from 15 years married in the military divided by the 18 years in the military in total. Thus, 83.3 of the time, the couple was married and both experiencing the military benefits.
Now say further that there is $100,000 in the retirement fund. That means $83, 30.00 is divisible and $16,650 is not divisible and kept by the soldier who served. The $83,300.00 is not necessarily divided in half automatically. This is because there are other factors to consider. For instance, the court may find the spouse of the soldier has retirement where he or she works. That also enters in the equation. Typically, there are several factors to consider and the court’s job is to figure a fair and equitable division of assets and liabilities.
Here’s another scenario to consider.
What about dividing the soldier’s retirement pay before they retire in lieu of a divorce? The actual total amount of years the soldier has left before retiring are unknown at this point. So the amount of time the soldier serves will be figured and then set to the side up to retirement. Then the percentage of what is to be divided will be figured just like the above example. In a case like this, the court looks at the soldier’s number of years served in the divorce and stipulates how it be figured in future calculations when retirement occurs. After the soldier retires, then the Military Department of Finance comes into play. They fill in the blank (the grand total of months in the military divided by the court order’s retirement plan).
If this is making your head spin, that’s okay. Military divorce is not an easy thing to work with.
That said, you should carefully consider who you choose as your divorce lawyer. If you live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, you should not pick just any divorce lawyer. While there are qualified divorce attorneys, many do not have the knowledge to handle military divorces properly and you do not want to risk your future on that.
To find out if a Military Divorce Lawyer knows how to handle your case, there are questions you can to determine if they’re qualified or not.
First, ask this. Can the state you reside in divide military retirement pay of a soldier if their spouse lives in the same state? The attorney should tell you no. At this point, your attorney should know about the USFSPA. This stands for the Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act. Your military divorce attorney should be able to tell you about this.
Second, ask the attorney “Is my civilian spouse entitled to any medical benefits after the divorce if the marriage was only 10 years long?” Your attorney should say “no”. Following that, your attorney ought to explain to you about the 20 year minimum marriage time requirement. Plus, he or she should explain about the 15 year service that must happen for the spouse to get medical benefits.
Lastly, ask the attorney what effect the SSCRA has on the “service of a summons” in your divorce. When you ask this, you’ll know if the lawyer knows this act’s name was modified in 2003 and became known as SRCA which is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
In summary, remember that military divorce can be complicated and you must have a knowledgeable attorney in this matter. After all, your future can take a wild swing for the worst if your attorney does not have experience in Military divorce.
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