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Divorce in the military: Things you should know

You and your spouse have built a successful life in the military. One or both of you may be officers who earn substantial income and have been able to provide for your children's financial needs, perhaps even accruing savings for their college educations. Life as a military officer can be both rewarding and challenging. It is definitely not easy to balance the demands of career, marriage, parenting and family life in general, especially if your duties take you overseas.  

In some ways, military life is quite different from civilian life. Then again, being a military family doesn't guarantee that you will be unscathed by many of the problems that plague civilian marriages and families nowadays. If you or your spouse files for divorce, it is safe to assume that hundreds of other military and civilian families are currently navigating similar situations. There are several issues regarding divorce in the military of which you'll want to be aware.  

It is the same as civilian divorce, yet different 

As mentioned earlier, your military family may face the same types of problems as the average civilian family in Virginia. Military life does not cause divorce, per se; however, military couples may indeed encounter marital challenges that most civilians do not. When it comes to divorce, the following issues can have an impact on your ability to achieve a swift and agreeable settlement

  • If you or your spouse has a permanent overseas station or active deployment, it can cause delays in your divorce. 
  • A main difference between civilian divorce and military divorce involves the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act. This law allows the court to classify military retirement pay as a property asset in divorce rather than as income. 
  • If you are not an active service member but your spouse is, you can receive retirement payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service after your divorce as long as your marriage lasted 10 years during 10 years in the military spouse's service. 
  • If you do not qualify for DFAS payments, it is still possible that a portion of retirement pay can be written in to your divorce settlement.  

A spouse who is not an active military member may also qualify for full base privileges if he or she meets certain eligibility requirements, one of which is that he or she has not remarried. Because military benefits often change and numerous military issues may affect your divorce, it's always a good idea to stay as updated as possible so that you can protect your interests if you and your spouse divorce.

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