military divorce

Everything You Need to Know about Military Divorce


As much as separation seemed to be unavoidable in typical marriages these days, the same goes to military couples or those who have spouses who are on duty to protect the nation.

Divorce between a person in uniform and his spouse have a pretty much the same procedure as the others.

In the military, divorce is considered to be a personal issue and thus leaves the matter to the civilian court. However, there are some considerations to be done when it comes to military divorce.

There are laws protecting both the military person and his or her spouse during and after the divorce. 

Rights as a Member of the Military

Since military members do not permanently stay in one place when at duty, they have some choices on when or where to file their divorce. They can choose to file either on the permanent residence of the spouse filing the divorce or of the military personnel or the place where the military member is stationed.

The court gives consideration if the military spouse is on service. For instance, in ordinary situations, the court orders both spouses a specific time to give a response or requires them to attend court hearings. In the case of military divorce, however, there are laws which give the military member benefit considering their duties as uniform personnel.

Court proceedings can be postponed and be extended when the military member is unable to attend because of the nature of their work. There are also protections for these military personnel if they have failed to respond to any lawsuit as long as, again, they are on duty. 

Rights as a Former Spouse

Under the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act, the former spouses of men in service are given compensation as long as they are qualified and can comply with the rules laid down by this Act. This law allows division of military pay after retirement between the ex-spouse and the member.

In some situations, the former spouse can get their portion straight from the government. Other than the monetary compensation, they can also be entitled to health care but only in treatment facilities of the military. When the spouse and their children are victims of abuse, the court may also grant some benefits in their favor.

To have a share in the retirement pay of the military member, the court must first award a portion of the retirement pay in the final decision of their divorce. If the court orders the division of the retirement pay, the situation must follow the 10/10 rule.

The former spouses should have been married for at least 10 years wherein the service member has also served the military for at least 10 years. In cases of health benefits, military exchanges and commissaries, laws usually follow either a 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 rule wherein the length of marriage, the length of military service and the length of the marriage during the spouse’s service are the considered factors. 

Child support, on the other hand, is to be determined depending on the laws of the state where the divorce happened. Only the court can provide the final benefits entitled to the child.

Nonetheless, during the process of court hearings on child support, the military still requires its members to provide support to their children even when the decision from court was not yet ordered. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas.

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