A military divorce is what it’s called, but to you and your spouse, your breakup may have little to do with the military. It is likely a struggle that is much more personal and a battle your military training can’t help you fight. Nevertheless, because of your military status, you have many things to consider and deal with during your divorce that civilians do not. Ignoring them may have negative ramifications for years to come.
Because of the complex nature of the issues involved in a military divorce, you may think you should seek representation from a military legal advisor, or JAG officer. However, these advisors may have limited knowledge of Arizona family law or experience with the delicate matters involved in a divorce. Instead, you may benefit from the representation of a civilian attorney with a military background and experience handling the kinds of divorce issues that service members face.
Critical issues to keep in mind
Certainly, you have made many sacrifices to serve your country while in the military. However, the U.S. government recognizes that many civilian spouses of service members make sacrifices as well. Some may give up their careers, leave their hometowns and families, and relocate to unfamiliar places to further the careers of their military spouses. Because of this, many issues that would be straightforward in a civilian divorce have a higher level of complexity when a spouse serves in the military, including these and others:
- Continuing the coverage for your spouse on your Tricare plan, if he or she is eligible
- Addressing your spouse’s status as a beneficiary of your Survivor Benefits Plan
- Extending to your civilian spouse the base privileges he or she enjoyed during your marriage, such as access to the commissary and other benefits
- Resolving complicated custody issues related to future deployments or relocations
- Dividing your thrift savings plan
One of the most complicated issues is the division of your retirement pay. Like many of the above-listed benefits, the division of this asset depends on how long you were married and how many of those years included your military service. Your ex-spouse may be eligible for up to half of your military retirement pay. This is one important reason for having an experienced attorney on your side. With skilled assistance, you have a better chance of obtaining a fair divorce settlement that will minimize any future financial struggles.