What Military Members Need to Know About Divorce

Divorce is complicated in general, but military benefits and military policies make military divorce even more complicated. To further muddy the waters, military personnel are often stationed away from home, meaning it’s usually not even obvious where the divorce should be filed. Here are some of the issues to consider if you’re in the military and preparing to file for a divorce.

The question of residency.

Usually, you can file for divorce in a state where either spouse has residency, but the law is different in each state. If you’re not sure whether you can file for divorce here in Alabama, give us a call and we’ll help you figure it out!

How Long Does a Military Divorce Take?

If you’re an active service member, you can put your divorce on hold for at least 90 days if your military duties make it difficult for you to respond to divorce papers. The court can grant extensions to the initial 90-day delay.

Is the non-military spouse eligible for health care coverage after the divorce?

If you’re the non-military spouse, you have two health coverage options.

  • No-cost coverage with TRICARE. You must have been married to an active service member for at least twenty years. If you remarry before you’re 55, you’ll lose your TRICARE coverage.
  • Conversion health coverage, the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). If you’re not eligible for TRICARE, you may be entitled to CHCBP. This insurance, unlike TRICARE, is not free. Like TRICARE, you’re no longer eligible if you remarry before the age of 55.

How about child support?

Every service except the Air Force has rules about how much child support needs to be paid, though the military has no authority to force an individual to pay support (this is only done through court order).  Our military divorce lawyer can walk you through any child support issues.

Military Divorce Entitlements

If the military spouse has served for at least 20 years, he or she is entitled to a retirement pension. If the non-military spouse has been married to the military member for at least 10 years, he or she will often be entitled to a portion of this pension. The military doesn’t decide how military pay should be distributed in a divorce; this is a function of state courts and will depend on your circumstances.

A military divorce must take both state laws and military policies into account, making them considerably more complicated than civilian divorces. If you or your spouse are in the military and you are considering divorce, it’s critical that you speak to a divorce lawyer with experience in this area. Please contact us today to learn more!