5 Ways Military Divorce is Different From Civilian Divorce

Divorces are tough for everyone involved. They can be especially difficult for military families because there are unique issues that can arise.

Here are some of the ways that military divorces differ from regular divorces:

1. The State You Apply For Divorce In Can Affect The Division Of Property

For military divorces, federal law says that the state that the military member resides in has the power to divide the military pension.

Therefore, if you file in a state that the military member did not live in, those courts have no authority when it comes to dividing the pension.

Each state has its own rules, so it is important to consult with a lawyer.

2. Servicemembers Can Slow Down The Process

In a military divorce, there is a law called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) that allows active-duty military personnel to request a “stay” if their military duties prevent them from participating in any court action.

This stay delays the divorce proceedings, including anything that involves spousal support, child custody, child support, property division, and more.

This “stay” can last for up to 90 days, and while the courts can grant extensions, the divorce proceedings cannot be delayed forever.

3. Military Legal Assistance Attorneys Are Available To Help

On most bases, there are legal assistance attorneys who cannot represent you during the divorce, but they can provide the following services:

- Write letters

- Edit and revise legal documentation

- Conduct negotiations and answer questions

A military spouse may seek the guidance of a military legal assistance attorney at any base for any branch of the armed services, but it is advised to always seek a civilian lawyer with no military affiliation.

4. Child Support Payments

With an exception of the Air Force, each military branch has its own rules for how much child support a parent should pay.

Once this is established, the court that is handling the child support case can make a decision for how much support should be paid.

While courts will typically follow the state’s guidelines for child support, they also understand there are various aspects to military pay including being deployed, transferring bases, and more.

These factors will be considered when determining the child support payment amount.

5. Health Care Coverage

Non-military spouses will have these two options for health care:

- TRICARE is available if the marriage lasted for at least 20 years during the military’s member’s active service. If the former spouse has their own insurance, TRICARE will be the secondary payor. The primary insurance will pay for the first portion of the bill, with TRICARE covering any additional costs.

- If the former non-military spouse isn’t eligible for TRICARE, they can purchase conversion health coverage, which is referred to as Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). If the military member leaves the service, the former spouse is eligible for coverage under CHCBP for 3 years after the date of the divorce.

There are also certain situations when the former spouse may be eligible for an indefinite period.

It is best to speak with a lawyer to learn what options are available to you.

If you are enduring a military divorce, you may be wondering what your options are. We understand that these matters can be both complicated and confusing.

At Stephen Foster, Attorney & Counselor at Law LLC, our law firm can properly guide you through the process while working diligently to get you the best possible outcome.

Contact our office at (803) 386-7117 to learn more.

Stephen Foster