On the surface the legal aspects of a divorce involving one military spouse is not much different than a divorce involving two civilians. Though the basic filing process is the same, there are certain issues that a military couple may face that civilian couples do not experience. With the number of military couples who divorce continuing to rise, it is a good idea to prepare for the aspects of a military divorce that are unique to your situation. Proper preparation can help guide you through this difficult process while reducing some of your divorce-related stress.
The demanding life of an active duty military member includes regular moves and deployments. A military spouse may find it difficult to find or maintain employment making it hard to save for retirement. Understanding this, the federal government has created laws that allow the former spouse of a military member to receive a percentage of his or her retirement. If a couple is married for 10 years that overlap a service member’s 10 years of service, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will send retirement payments directly to the former spouse.
Military Benefit Access
A person who was married to a military spouse for at least 20 years while that spouse served at least 20 years in the military is entitled to continued access to certain military benefits after a divorce. One of the most important benefits is Tricare medical insurance that provides health coverage for former military spouses as long as they do not remarry. Another valuable benefit is base privileges that allow a former spouse to take advantage of many tax-free shopping options that are available only to military members and their dependents. Though most former spouses focus on the medical insurance benefits, base access creates many unique opportunities to save money.
There are different levels of coverage available to former spouses and children that are meant to provide protection or support after the service member passes away. Children will usually only receive these benefits if the former spouse dies or remarries before the age of 55. The costs associated with survivor’s benefit premiums increase over the years, so it is important for the military spouse to understand the long term costs prior to finalizing their divorce. Also, if a former spouse is elected and the service member remarries, he or she must notify their current spouse and that current spouse will not be covered since only one election can be made at a time.
Discussing Your Situation with an Attorney
Divorce is a serious legal situation, especially if an individual is active duty military or has recently retired after over 20 years of service. Military members want to be sure they are not forced to provide more financial support than legally required, and former spouses want to ensure that they are compensated appropriately, especially if they have minor children. Discussing your situation with a qualified divorce attorney is a good way to protect yourself and your assets during a military divorce. The attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum are prepared to help you navigate through your military divorce. Contact one of our Atlanta area offices today to schedule a private consultation.