Military Divorce: What You Should Know Going In
Military marriages have shockingly high divorce rates. According to recent statistics, the U.S. military has a combined divorce rate of 3.7%. In 2011, about 30,000 marriages ended in divorce. These increased risks of military divorce are associated with factors such as lengthy deployments, the stress of assignments, extramarital affairs, and weapon usage.
If you or your spouse is a member of the military and you are considering divorce, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced Kentucky military divorce attorney. Our attorneys at the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates can provide answers to all your questions about military divorce.
Which State Should the Divorce Be Filed In?
When it comes to where to file for a divorce, military members and their spouses have three options. These include:
- The state where the spouse filing for divorce resides
- The state where the military member spouse is stationed
- The state where the military member spouse claims legal residency
To file for divorce in Kentucky, you or your spouse must reside in Kentucky or must be stationed in the state.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was designed to ease financial burdens on servicemembers during periods of military service. This federal law offers protections for military members as they enter active duty. Also, the SCRA covers issues of civil judicial proceedings. The Act offers the following protections:
- A "stay" or postponement of a civil court or administrative proceeding is extended if the service member can't attend because of duty.
- Certain protections on default judgments for failure to respond or failure to appear at trial or divorce proceedings.
This means that response times and appearance dates allocated during the divorce process may be extended for a military member who is deployed or on duty.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA)
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) allows some former spouses of military members to be awarded a share of military retired pay, either from the military member or by direct payment from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) if they were married for at least 10 years during active service. This may also include TRICARE medical coverage, commissary, and some other benefits.
Benefits Available to Unmarried Former Spouse
After a military divorce, the former spouse may be entitled to the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) for three years after TRICARE ends. The former spouse may remain on CHCBP for life provided they remained unmarried and were awarded a share of the military retirement benefits.
According to the 20/20/20 Rule, in addition to military pension benefits, an un-remarried former spouse may be eligible for full medical benefits, commissary, and exchange privileges after a military divorce if:
- The couple was married for at least 20 years.
- The service member’s spouse served for at least 20 years.
- There was at least a 20-year overlap between their marriage and military service.
A U.S. court may not recognize a divorce that was filed overseas. Hence, it's best to file in the United States. Family members and their property may be brought home at government expense before the service member's tour of duty ends. If you own a property overseas, you should consult with a military divorce attorney for proper guidance.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Just like civilian divorces, military divorces can be quite complicated. Special rules and requirements apply to U.S. service members and their spouses during a divorce. Trying to determine matters such as support payments, residency or filing requirements, service of process, and the division of military pensions can make the entire process even more difficult and exhausting. This is why it is important to speak with an experienced Kentucky military divorce attorney for proper guidance.
For more than 20 years, our attorneys at the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates have been handling matters of family law and military divorce. We will offer you the detailed legal guidance, support, and respect you need to get through this difficult phase in your life.
Experienced Kentucky Military Divorce Attorney
Military divorces require special knowledge of the law that doesn’t apply to civilian divorces. If you or your spouse is a military member and you're considering divorce, contact the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates to schedule a free consultation. We will give you the comprehensive legal counsel and advocacy you need. Our office proudly serves clients in Shepherdsville, Kentucky and the surrounding area including Louisville, Elizabethtown, Jeffersontown, Mount Washington, and Radcliff.