When a military member goes through a divorce, the process can be significantly is much more complicated than it is when two civilians divorce. Due to nature of military work that means that a 50/50 custody split is likely be impossible, and losing some of the benefits of military life like housing and health care can often times put a significant burden onto the non-military spouse. However, the military member also stands to lose a lot in a divorce—so both parties should know what their rights are and get the legal support they need.
The Frozen Benefit Rule
In 2022, the National Defense Authorization Act changed how pensions are divided among military members and their ex-spouses. Prior to 2022, an ex-military spouse could get a larger part of the pension if their ex-spouse received a higher rank after the divorce. Under the new law, a military member’s rank is treated as “frozen” when the divorce happens. The ex-spouse’s share of the pension will be based only on the service member’s rank at the time of the divorce.
Ever since the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act became law, military pensions have been treated as marital property. An ex-spouse may be entitled to half of the pension if the marriage lasted at least 10 years, however, this can be negotiated. The military spouse may offer more in other areas of the divorce in exchange for giving up less of their pension, or the non-military spouse may ask for a larger percentage of the pension.
Health Care Benefits
Many soon-to-be-ex-spouses worry about losing TRICARE health benefits. While the non-military ex-spouse loses healthcare benefits, the service members’ children will still retain their TRICARE coverage. However through the Department of Defense Continued Health Care Benefit program, an ex-spouse may choose to purchase coverage for up to 36 months after the divorce.
If the service member and their family are living overseas when the divorce takes place, the military may pay for the ex-spouse’s relocation expenses to allow them to leave the overseas duty station. Additional moving costs must be negotiated as part of the divorce settlement.
Child Support and Alimony
Immediately after a couple decides to divorce, the military service member is bound by their branch’s family support requirements. However, these requirements are not a long-term solution. Just as in a civilian marriage, it is crucial to file a court order requesting family support until the divorce becomes final.
Speak to an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today
If you can not agree on custody, visitation, support, or any other family matters contact the Law Offices of Keith Anthony at (860) 333-6455. Attorney Keith Anthony can help you navigate thru this process, step by step and is open to assist you. If negotiations fail we can arrange mediation of your disputes. We can help you make agreements that can be filed with the court.