Understanding Military Divorces

October 31, 2016 | Divorce, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Dan Glasser Dan Glasser

There are more than 1.3 million active duty American military personnel worldwide.  Military life is difficult for the entire family from the soldier that is deployed, to the spouse and children that stay at home.  And then there are military marriages.  Only military spouses can truly understand how difficult it is to be involved in a military marriage or why their rate of divorce is more than 50 percent.

Considering a Military Divorce?

If you are a spouse in a military marriage and you are considering divorce as an option, it is important to speak to knowledgeable Pittsburgh divorce lawyers to discuss the differences between civilian and military divorces including:

  • Where to File for Divorce

A military family is constantly moving around and many times, the active service member does not reside in the same state or country as the rest of the family.  If you and your spouse have decided to file for divorce, the first question is “Where do we file?”  An experienced divorce attorney can review all of the military bases where you and your spouse were stationed and explain your filing options.

  • Dependent Allotments

If you are in a military marriage, you understand that the military pays a “dependent allotment” based upon the marriage of the service member and the number of dependents. The Department of Defense (DOD) requires that servicemembers comply with support orders, but in many cases it is difficult to calculate the dollar amount of the dependent allotment that is being paid and to arrange for that amount to be forwarded to a civilian spouse and children.

Military Benefits and the 20/20/20 Rule

Military divorces have other differences, including use of a commissary, Tricare insurance and other benefits.  Unless you speak to an experienced divorce attorney, you may not even realize that these benefits are a concern in light of the “20/20/20” rule.  Military rules cut off a civilian spouse from benefits after divorce, unless certain requirements are met:

  1. Military Service: The servicemember was in the military for at least 20 years;
  2. Marriage: The couple was married for at least 20 years; and
  3. Overlap: The marriage overlapped the military service for at least 20 years.

Many military spouses, both servicemembers and civilians, do not know that the 20/20/20 rule exists and do not learn of the serious consequences that occur until after the divorce is finalized. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can guide you through ways to equitably address the fact that one spouse may be receiving a military pension irrespective of these 20/20/20 rule.

If you and your spouse are having a difficult time in your military marriage, there are people on base or at the local armory that have likely “advised” you how to proceed.  While they all have good intentions, it is important to speak to the experienced divorce attorneys at Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC, to make certain that you understand all of the pitfalls surrounding a military divorce.  Call today at (412) 471-9000 to speak to one of our lawyers or use our online contact form.

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