Military spouses face a lot of challenges while their spouse is serving. The stress of this type of lifestyle can sometimes lead to divorce. If you are a military spouse who is looking at a divorce, there are several things that you must know.
While there are many issues that are the same for military and civilian divorces, plenty are different. One thing that you need to know is that you have to learn about the state laws where the divorce is filed. Divorce, including those involving military members, are handled by state courts and not federal law. There are, however, some federal laws that might come into the picture.
The length of your marriage and your spouse’s service matter
One thing that comes up often is what type of benefits the civilian spouse is due to receive after the divorce. The answer to this varies according to how long you were married, how long your spouse was in the service and how long those two timeframes overlapped. Typically, the longer you’ve been married, the more benefits you are likely entitled to.
The general guideline is the 20/20/20 rule. This means:
- Your spouse has at least 20 years of military service
- You were married to your spouse for at least 20 years
- At least 20 years of the marriage occurred when your spouse was in active military service
In this case, you are likely going to be entitled to commissary privileges, TRICARE and similar benefits.
Defense Finance and Accounting Service payments
Many people who are divorcing a military member want to know if they can get payments directly from DFAS. This is only possible if the marriage and service time overlapped for at least 10 years. Often, these payments are preferable since they are automatic and covered by the government. It is still possible to receive part of your ex’s retirement pay even if you don’t qualify for payments directly from DFAS. These would just be handled in a different manner.
Child custody matters
Don’t think that because your ex is in the military that you are guaranteed to get custody of the children. The court can’t use the service member’s service as a reason to not give them custody. Instead, both parents should have a level standing as long as there aren’t instances of abuse or similar points. The service member might only need to provide a family care plan in order to have custody of the children.