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Protect your rights and assets in a military divorce

You may be one of many women who chose not to pursue a college education or career outside the home because you agreed to be a stay-at-home mother in support of your spouse's military career. When things really started to go sour in your relationship, you knew a divorce was likely. It's understandable if you're worried about numerous issues, such as child support, custody proceedings and alimony.  

The more you know about military divorce ahead of time, the less anxiety you might feel as you take legal steps to end your marriage and lay the groundwork for a new lifestyle with your children. It's always a good idea to talk to other former military spouses who have gone through similar experiences in the past. They are often fountains of knowledge regarding what to expect as you navigate the military divorce process and can also likely share many support resources for you and your children, as well.  

If your spouse deploys 

If your spouse deploys to active duty overseas before you finalize your divorce, proceedings will pause until your spouse returns. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects deployed military personnel from litigation while carrying out overseas duties.  


Regarding where to file divorce petitions, things can be quite complex when one or both spouses is a member of the U.S. military. State laws vary, so you'll want to seek guidance to clarify the laws in your state. In many cases, parties can file divorce papers in any state where at least one of the spouses has legal residence. That may not necessarily be the state you happen to be stationed in at the time.  

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act 

This law may be a key factor to help you get a portion of your military spouse's retirement pay. The Department of Defense provides support to spouses who need it to enforce this law. When you sacrificed a career to stay home and raise your family, it is logical that you would be entitled to retirement benefits for the service you provided to your spouse and family. The state has discretion whether or not to award you pension pay.  

Child support and branch of military service 

Whether your spouse serves as a marine, soldier, sailor or airman may have an impact on your child support proceedings depending on their job duties. Guidelines exist to help co-parents achieve fair agreements. Like asset division, the court is the final decision-making authority in all child-related matters in divorce. 

Tricare insurance 

The length of your marriage, the length of your spouse's military service and whether or not your marriage overlaps the years of service are key factors that determine if you get to keep your Tricare insurance after divorce.  

If you meet the 20/20/20 rule, meaning you were married 20 years, your spouse served in the U.S. military for 20 years and your marriage overlaps years of service, you'll retain base benefits for the rest of your life if you do not remarry. How quickly you finalize your divorce depends on many factors, including how well you and your soon-to-be-ex get along. The sooner you obtain support when needed, the better chance you have of achieving a swift and amicable settlement.

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