If you are serving in the armed forces, you already know the ways in which your life is very different from your civilian friends and family. Trained to defend our nation, your job may require deployment upon short notice. While executing orders, you experience situations and events which you “can neither confirm nor deny.” Based upon your job responsibilities, civilians simply cannot relate.
While all relationships have their stressors, you likely have different job requirements affecting your relationship, which may cause additional strain on your marriage. Nobody needs to tell you a military marriage is much different than those of your civilian friends, but if your marriage is no longer working for you, you may wonder if a military divorce is different for servicemembers.
Give your divorce the special attention it needs
While civilian and military life have their distinct differences, the divorce process is very similar. Like civilian divorces, military divorces are also handled in civilian court and guided by state divorce laws. Naturally, though, there are notable differences which require careful planning and a thorough knowledge of military life and regulations.
- The continuance of healthcare benefits: Like many civilians, your spouse may benefit from the healthcare benefits offered through your job. In certain cases, the court may rule the extension of these benefits to your civilian ex. When couples meet specific conditions, the eligibility continues once the divorce is final. However, even if a spouse does not meet all the conditions, he or she may remain eligible for partial benefits for a limited time.
- Your military retirement: The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) provides state courts the option to consider your military retirement benefits as marital property, among other military assets. Courts often consider your spouse’s contribution to the marriage in dividing military retirement benefits.
- Unpredictability in parenting time arrangements: If you have children, custody and parenting time arrangements can be painful to navigate in any divorce. As a soldier, you take these matters to new heights with irregular schedules, relocation and deployments. Your custody and parenting agreement must allow flexibility for you to care for your children despite unusual circumstances.
Even though the same laws govern civilian and military divorces, there are several important things servicemembers need to consider in divorce that civilians do not. Ultimately, it is these considerations which can affect the conversations you have and the decisions you make during your divorce process.