A divorce can be a complicated matter, especially when the divorce involves a member of the armed services.
When looking at some of the challenges facing an armed services member in divorce, it is important to note the superseding law. The two sets of law that are involved in an armed services divorce are: New York state divorce law (state where the divorce occurs) and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA).
Generally, the USFSPA requires the military to abide by state law with regards to child and spousal support and other major divorce issues.
There are several issues that may arise when filing for a military divorce. Some of the most common issues are listed below.
Division of retirement benefits
One of the most difficult parts of a military divorce is determining how to divide retirement benefits. Military retirement can be classified as marital property.
Military members have a generous retirement package. Under the USFSPA, only couples who have been married for at least 10 years, during which time the service member performed at least 10 years of creditable military service, may qualify for the division of retirement pay. For other benefits, such as continued health care benefits, 20 years of marriage and 20 years of credible military service are required in order for the non-servicemember spouse to continue accessing these benefits.
Enforcement of order
Non-service member spouses who seek enforcement of an alimony order may worry about getting their service member to make alimony payments, as the service member may be out of the order’s jurisdiction. However, failing to make these payments could be considered service discrediting misconduct.
If a service member fails to make required payments for two months or longer, a non-service member ex-spouse can file for involuntary allotment or garnishment of the service member’s wages.
Many challenges can arise with a military divorce. An attorney specializing in military divorce can help you navigate these complex issues.