7 Special and Significant Implications of a Military Divorce

Whether you are in the military, or you’re married to a military man or woman, be aware of these important ways in which your divorce may be significantly different from a civilian divorce.

  1. It may take longer. If you or your spouse are on active duty in a remote area, or you’re on permanent station overseas, you may have difficulty establishing the residency requirements required to divorce.
  2. The divorcing party will need to decide in which state to file. If you file for divorce in a state other than the military member’s home state of legal residence, the court may not have limited authority to do things like divide the military pension. Speak with an experienced Maryland military divorce for insight into how to handle these issues.
  3. Due to the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA), an active military spouse who is being served with divorce papers can request a “stay” in the event that military duties prevent him or her from responding to the court action. The initial stay lasts a minimum of 90 days, and the court can grant extensions.
  4. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) addresses concerns like the spouse’s continuing eligibility for commissary rights (also called base privileges), health care benefits, and eligibility for a portion of the service member’s military retirement pay. Some of these benefits are determined by length of marriage.
  5. The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) does not automatically remain in place following a divorce. The divorce settlement must address these benefits. Per Military.com, “A member who has a former spouse upon becoming eligible to elect a survivor annuity may elect coverage for a former spouse. If the member has more than one former spouse, the member must specify which former spouse is being covered. An election for a former spouse prevents payment of an annuity to a current spouse. A former spouse who was not a member’s former spouse on the date a member became eligible to participate in SBP must have been married to the member for at least one year in order to be named as a former spouse beneficiary.”
  6. Just as monies in a 401(k) plan must be covered in a divorce decree, so must the monies in a military Thrift Savings Plan. Rules and requirements differ from those that govern the division of civilian retirement assets.
  7. Each branch of the military has legal assistance attorneys who can offer helpful advice, but these lawyers cannot represent you in your divorce. You will need to find your own qualified Maryland military divorce attorney to handle your case.

The DiPietro Family Law Group works extensively with military personnel in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. to handle complex and sensitive family law issues. Call us now at 301.970.9286 to set up a confidential case evaluation.

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