The terms on which a relationship ended play a big part dictating how the divorce proceedings go, but it’s not the only factor. There are also any shared assets, entitlement to income and benefit, and the potential matter of child custody. These things play a role in a military divorce, some of them uniquely so.
From where you file for divorce to the issue of benefits, we’ve covered four things you should know about a military divorce.
4 Things You Should Know About Military Divorce
Where You Should File for Divorce Can be Tricky
Military people may have multiple homes. There’s the place they shared with their spouse, but there may also be a home of record and the address where they currently reside.
These places may be in different towns, states, even countries. The problem is that divorces need to be filed in a specific region and you’ll need to have lived in a state for at least 6 months to file it there.
Divorces should be filed in the place that you are domiciled. If this is a different area to your spouse then this becomes tricky. It gets even more complicated if there are children involved. If you have children then it will need to be established which state has jurisdiction over their custody, as this is something that can’t be waived. The answer is that it’s where the children have a permanent residence or where they’ve lived for the last six months.
A key thing to note is that a U.S. court might not recognize a divorce if it’s filed overseas. Another is that individual states decide how military benefits are divided.
So, before filing for divorce, keep in mind that you must have lived in the area for at least half a year and be aware of how the state may choose to divide your benefits.
Custody of Children for Active Servers is Possible
Custody of children is always the most emotive part of divorces. While the relationship may have broken down between spouses, the one shared between parents and their kids is sacrosanct. Divorce gets in the way of this. The courts must decide who gets custody of children and what the visitation rights are. Active military servers may worry that their work will mean they’re unable to get custody of their children. This isn’t the case.
Active servers can get custody of their kids. However, being in the military can impact on how custody is arranged. Regardless of their working arrangements, all parents must have a parenting plan in the event of a divorce. This means that it’s important to have a Family Care Plan.
A Family Care Plan explains how their children will be looked after once the divorce has been finalized, explaining who has custody and how the kids are cared for when their custodian is unable to look after them. Military One Source provides information on how military personnel can set up a Family Care Plan. It gives details on how a Family Care Plan can be arranged for army, navy, marine, and air force professionals. Make sure you read through this information and have a clear idea of how to put in place the right Family Care Plan for you and your children.
Split of Military Benefits Depends On the Courts
Divorce settlements are often impacted by the benefits a spouse is eligible to. Partners have a legal right to certain parts of their spouses income, wealth, and estate. Military divorce is no different. Savings, property, and other assets shared between you and your spouse can be subject to division. But the separation doesn’t stop here. Military benefits can also be divided, if the courts choose to do so.
Partners of military personnel have legal rights as part of The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA). This is a federal law that gives benefits to both married and unmarried spouses. Some of the benefits it offers include healthcare, commissary, and exchange. One of the key things it gives spouses a legal right to are the retirement benefits of people who are or have been employed by the military.
Military pensions are considered assets in divorce proceedings. If a pension is to be divided then the court must have jurisdiction over the military person, something that comes via consent or the service person’s residency. However, consent can be inferred by the court and this may come from the military member’s participation in the proceedings.
FindLaw has lots of detailed resources on USFSPA. You should begin by referring to its USFSPA Fact Sheet, which includes a range of important information. Once you’ve done this, you should then look through FindLaw’s other resources on USFSPA, so that you know what rights your spouse has to your military pension and other assets.
VA Disability Benefits Are Exempt from Division
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) gives the partners of service person’s a legal right to potentially access military pensions. It doesn’t give them the right to VA disability benefits.
VA disability benefits aren’t considered an asset during divorce proceedings. They’re legally looked upon as being different to retirement benefits, meaning that spouses have no right to them. But this doesn’t mean VA disability benefits aren’t part of the conversation during a divorce. The reason for this is that they form an important part of any discussions that concern child support. This is because they represent a replacement of salary for military personnel whose ability to work has been impacted. What this means is that the courts will use VA disability benefits to help determine if you’re able to support your children financially, something that will influence their custodial arrangements.
This makes it vital that you establish if you’re getting the correct amount of benefits and VA Claim Pros can help you with this. VA Claim Pros helps military personnel to get the benefits they’re entitled to, providing a range of resources and support to help you establish this. If you have children then make sure you check that you’re getting the right level of VA disability benefits before entering into divorce proceedings.
In a sense, military divorces are the same as any other. They involve the separation of two married people and may require arrangements to be made for children. But there are some unique things about military divorces that are vital for both parties to know, details that tell them what their rights and obligations are.
Where you file for divorce, child custody, military benefits, and VA disability benefits, are all things that you need to know about. Make sure you’ve understood the points made in this article and then lean on the recommended resources to find out more information about them.
Stevie Nicks is Digital Editor at Just Another Magazine – a website that covers the topics you care about. You’ll find articles about lifestyle, travel, fashion, trends, and relationships on our site – each of which is written in our unique style. www.justanothermagazine.com
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