Divorce In Military Families: What Additional Legal Issues Are Involved?

Americans are proud of our military and the soldiers that service these duties. Each year, an increasing number of men and women join the military in hopes of being able to serve and protect this country from domestic and foreign terrorists. The sacrifice that these men and women face while in the military usually mean being away from families for long periods of time after being deported to different parts of the world. Being absent for long periods of time often leads the military spouse to becoming lonely, and adultery could result from long periods of separation.

The process for military divorce is slightly different compared to civilian divorces. Other legal issues are involved, especially when dealing with military pension. The federal law that governs the division of military pension when a solider is going through a divorce while in the military is referred to as the Uniformed Service Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA). This protects the solider from having all of his retirement and pension funds completely divided by the divorce.

There is a misconception that former spouses are not entitled to get a portion of the military pension if the marriage has been under 10 years. While the USFSPA does protect soldiers going through divorce, military pension unfortunately can still be divided to the non-military spouse based on what is considered a fair amount. Each state handles the divorce and the division of military pensions differently, so it’s a good idea to get an understanding of how the division of military pension will be handled, depending on which state the military divorce is filed in.