Military lives are different in many ways. Someone who is part of the military can be divorced in our state courts just like everyone else. However, as we all know, there are some differences in military life that could make divorce a bit more complicated. Therefore, maybe the question should be “How do I protect myself during a military divorce?”
First, remember most military families move all over the world. So how do you determine where you are supposed to file for divorce? Domicile is the legal term for the place you consider home. You may not be living there right now, but it may be the place to which you intend to return and make your home indefinitely. Your domicile may determine where you file for divorce. It is important to understand that the laws regarding alimony, child support and child custody vary from state to state. Therefore, it is important to consider your domicile state along with where you should file for divorce.
Another aspect to consider is health care. Once you are divorced, you are no longer a military dependent and therefore, are not entitled to military benefits. In other words, you will have to find your own healthcare and will no longer be entitled to other military perks such as a discount at Disney World!
Am I entitled to a share of my spouse’s retirement benefits when we divorce? This is another aspect of military divorces that differs from the civilian world. Military pensions are not governed by ERISA which is the federal law that governs civilian pensions. A military pension has its own set of laws. For example, you are only entitled to a portion of a person’s military pension if the parties have been married for 10 years while the military person was enlisted. In addition, there are survivor benefits to be considered and cost of living adjustments. It may be possible for a party to ask for other compensation if he or she is not eligible to receive a portion of the military pension. These are all issues your lawyer would have to consider and negotiate in order to make sure you receive a fair and equitable settlement.
Finally, military personnel receive non-taxable stipends when they are deployed such as housing, food and uniform allowances. These items are non-taxable and are not listed on a person’s income tax return. However, these items should be figured into a person’s annual income in regard to the calculation of alimony and child support.
This is a list of only some of the issues that factor into a military divorce. Military divorces can be complicated and it is important to seek advice and guidance from a matrimonial law firm such as Lyons & Associates. Our divorce lawyers in Woodbridge represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters, including military divorce. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us online or call our offices at 908-575-9777.
WRITTEN BY: ChrisAnn Wright, Esq.