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While a degree of stress and uncertainty accompanies any type of divorce, military members and their spouses face additional questions such as:
- What happens if I’m served divorce papers while on active duty?
- Where do I send divorce papers if my husband or wife is on active duty?
- Can custody decisions be made when one parent is overseas or out of state?
- What happens to my military pension?
- Where will my divorce case take place?
Miller Law Group, P.C. is here to walk you through these and other issues. We understand the unique issues and complexities involved in divorce cases involving members of the military, and we are prepared to tackle any challenges you might face with experience and skill.
How Military Divorce Differs from Civilian Divorce
There are a lot of ways that military divorces differ from civilian divorces. There are some unique rules as to jurisdiction; serving military members who are deployed elsewhere; and dividing assets and marital estates—especially military pensions, which are governed by special rules. It is therefore critical that you hire an attorney who understands the unique ways in which military divorces work.
Understanding Military Spouse Entitlements in a Divorce
In a military divorce, the non-military spouse may be entitled to various benefits and support, including division of military retirement pay, spousal support, child support, healthcare coverage, and access to military facilities. The specific entitlements will depend on factors such as the length of the marriage, the length of the military service, and the needs of each spouse.
Division of Military Retirement Pay
Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), state courts can treat military disposable retired pay as marital property, subject to division during a divorce. The non-military spouse may be entitled to a portion of the military member's retirement pay based on the length of the marriage and the years of military service. The "10/10 rule" must be satisfied for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to make direct payments to the non-military spouse. This rule requires that the marriage lasted at least ten years, overlapping with at least ten years of military service.
Spousal and Child Support
In a military divorce, spousal and child support orders are determined by state law and the specific financial circumstances of the parties. The military has guidelines in place to ensure that service members provide adequate support to their families. If there is no court order or agreement, the military member's commanding officer may impose support obligations based on these guidelines.
Healthcare coverage for the non-military spouse depends on the length of the marriage, the duration of military service, and the time overlap between the two. Under the 20/20/20 rule, the non-military spouse may be eligible for full military healthcare coverage, including TRICARE, if the marriage lasted at least 20 years, the service member completed at least 20 years of service, and there was at least a 20-year overlap between the marriage and military service. If the 20/20/15 rule is satisfied, which requires a 15-year overlap between marriage and service, the non-military spouse may be eligible for one year of transitional healthcare coverage.
Access to Military Facilities and Benefits
A non-military spouse may retain access to certain military facilities and benefits, such as commissaries, exchanges, and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) facilities, if they meet the 20/20/20 rule requirements.
Stalling Divorce Proceedings for Active Duty
If you or your spouse is on active duty in the military, military laws protect cases from commencing without the military spouse being present. This means final divorce orders cannot be entered by default without the military spouse having a say in the matter. While it is not always possible to delay temporary orders, final orders can be stalled until a military spouse is off active duty.
Can I Get a Divorce While Deployed Overseas or If My Spouse Is?
If you are overseas and want a divorce or are married to someone who is deployed in the military, you might be wondering if divorce is possible. A military divorce during deployment can be difficult, and the possibility of obtaining one varies from situation to situation.
Factors that influence a divorce while overseas include:
- Who is filing for divorce
- Where the military member is deployed
- If the military member is protected by the Service Members Civil Relief Act
To help you learn more about getting a divorce while overseas, we’ve prepared a blog that discusses the topic. Additionally, calling our Massachusetts divorce law firm now at (508) 502-7002 will help you discover your options at no cost.
How Miller Law Group, P.C. Can Help You
Our Massachusetts military divorce lawyers help servicemen and women and their spouses in divorce proceedings. All Miller Law Group, P.C. clients benefit from our top-notch legal team and our extensive knowledge of the Massachusetts Probate & Family Law Courts.
We’re ready to serve all Massachusetts military members and their families stationed at bases such as:
- Hanscom Airforce Base in Bedford, MA
- Westover Air Force Base in Westover, MA
- Soldier Systems Center Army Base in Natick, MA
- Fort Devens Army Base in Devens, MA
- Air Station Cape Cod Coast Guard Base in Cape Cod, MA
- Sector SE New England Coast Guard Base in Woods Hole, MA
Whether your divorce is moving along amicably or you are facing a highly contentious, complex divorce, we will represent your interests and pursue a fair agreement for your divorce.
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