Military Divorce

Military Divorces have different considerations and concerns from those cases without servicemembers. The big point to remember is that in a military divorce there are important issues regarding pay and retirement. Also, when a divorce goes very bad, the chain of command could get involved and the military career will be over.

While the military does not generally get involved in divorce, there are times it does.

When there is no support agreement or court order, each branch has its own rules. For example, in the Army, the soldiers must pay his BAH RC/T to support his dependents. If there are in housing s/he doesn’t have to pay. In the Navy, a sailor must pay 1/3 of his pay, to include BAH and entitlements to support his/her spouse. If there is a child as well, then it is 1/2 of the pay. The Marine Corps has a strict payment schedule, as does the Coast Guard. The Air Force is a bit looser.

Generally, failure to support a spouse and/or children can result in a bar to re-enlistment, elimination, nonjudicial punishment  (ART 15 or Captain’s Mast) or even a court-martial.

The military will also get involved if there are allegations of domestic violence or adultery.

The biggest problems in a Military Divorce are calculation of the proper child support and the understanding of military benefits. Most lawyers who do not practice in this area do not understand the importance of REDUX. REDUX is martial property and needs to be account for in the settlement. Similarly, military retired pay, with or without REDUX, needs to be understood. Most people in the military falsely believe that the retired pay is split 50/50 after 10 years of marriage. This is utterly false. In a Military Divorce, the 10 year rule has nothing to do with how the retired pay is split. The rule states that if parties have been married for 10 years and there is 10 years of overlapping military service, then DFAS will pay the spouse’s share directly to the spouse. A divorce court determines according to the laws of the state how the retired pay is to be divided.

Also, in a Military Divorce, unless it is the servicemember’s home state or s/he started the action, the court has no power to divide the retired pay.

But, beyond that division of the military retired pay will involve DFAS and the filing of the proper DD Forms.  The interplay between retired pay and VA disability pay became more complicated in 2003.

Finally, the Post-911 GI Bill has enormous implications in Military Divorces.

It is important when going through a Military Divorce to get a law firm that speaks the language. At Port and Sava we are military and understand the problems.