There are special considerations when it comes to military divorce compared to civilian divorce. We have compiled some of the most common questions that arise when service members and their spouses decide to obtain a divorce.
1. Where do military couples file for divorce?
It can be tricky figuring out where to file for divorce when one or both spouses are enlisted in the military. The parties must understand that, regardless of where divorces are filed, the court needs to grant jurisdiction in order for the divorce to go forward. The law of the state where the divorce is filed holds power over the state in which the couple first married.
If you are preparing for divorce or have been served with divorce papers, you should check with a local attorney or educate yourself on the jurisdiction statute where you are currently living and where you last lived, since the length of time you lived in a particular location is often an important factor.
2. How do you calculate child support in a military divorce?
When deliberating how much child support a military parent must pay, it is important to look at a variety of financial aspects. In Massachusetts, the state’s Child Support Guidelines include as part of an individual’s income any of the various military benefits that are paid. These include COLA (cost of living adjustments), BAH (basic housing allowance), etc. These benefits often can increase a person’s gross income by 15 percent or more. It is important to have the most recent pay statements for both parties so income can be accurately determined.
Also, if you are modifying support, you may be doing so using the laws of a state (or country) that are different than those that applied where the original or most recent order was made. A good piece of advice for any military family is to familiarize yourself with the local laws as they may be applicable – and, in some cases, be more beneficial, if they apply.
3. How do I work child custody and visitation during a military divorce?
As with any divorce proceedings and custody cases, it is imperative to have a clear and specific parenting plan in place. In military cases, the plans need to address scenarios such as relocation or deployment. Having open communication between both parties will help determine what is best for your children.
Often the parent who is not active duty will have custody while the other parent is on duty. If the service member has custody, he or she has the responsibility of arranging for care of the child during deployments.
If a parent is in the military, then a Family Care Plan must be in order. This plan addresses information such as contacts, how the child will be supported and who will have custody in the event that the parent dies while on duty.
4. How is health care determined after a military divorce?
Military families usually are covered by TRICARE, the health care program for uniformed service members and their families around the world. After a divorce, your children are still covered. However, the ex-spouse of the service member must obtain his or her own health insurance. Rather than being offered COBRA, the ex is eligible for the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP), which provides transitional health care. The spouse has 60 days to sign up for the insurance, which can last up to 36 months while the former spouse seeks other health insurance coverage.
5. Can I get a divorce while married to a deployed soldier?
It depends on your situation. Soldiers are protected by law from things such as divorce proceedings from occurring until they're home from deployment. However, they can also be ordered to take time off in order to handle family law issues that could interfere with their performance while deployed. Find out more about deployment and divorce in our blog about the subject.
At Miller Law Group, P.C., we know divorces can be difficult, even more so when one or both spouses is in the military. That is why our Massachusetts divorce attorneys can help review your case and figure out a plan that is best for you. Call today for a free consultation!