Service members at Hill Air Force Base and other military institutions in Utah may be interested to know that, in most respects, a divorce involving military personnel is the same as any other divorce. Laws regarding alimony, child support and asset division apply to military couples without variance. By and large, the military defers to state statutes regarding these vital issues. However, there are certain conditions that specifically affect military divorces and particular factors with which military families alone must deal when going through a divorce.

For example, there are a number of states that permit exceptions to their residency requirement for divorcing military members stationed in those states. Furthermore, an issue unique to military divorces is the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. Under this federal law, spouses may be entitled to a portion of their partner’s military retirement benefits. Pursuant to USFSPA, states may consider military pension property instead of income.

However, in order for ex-spouses to be eligible to receive retirement payments, their marriage must have been at least 10 years in duration with 10 overlapping years of military service. For this reason, the manner by which each individual state determines the date of division in a divorce is pivotal. The same couple may be considered legally married for 10 years in one state while for only nine years in another state, depending on the language in the states’ respective statutes regarding date of division.

Another issue particular to military divorces is the disparity between service members’ pay while deployed and while on base. This disparity may have implication when divorcing couples try to calculate child support. On account of these complex issues, it is imperative that military personnel or spouses of military members retain the counsel of a family law attorney when considering a divorce.

Source: Military, “Understanding Divorce in the Military“, September 09, 2014

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