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A military divorce has unique considerations

Life in the military isn’t easy. When you have a spouse, the stresses of military life on both of you might end up creating a rift in the marriage that can’t be corrected. When this happens, divorce might be imminent. If that’s the case with your marriage, there are a few things that are different in a military divorce than in a civilian divorce.

One of the differences is where you file the petition for divorce. You might have to file it in the state where you are stationed, but you might also be able to file in the state where you have your permanent residence. Once you determine which is the better option for you, make sure you think about these other considerations:

Retirement matters in the military divorce

If you have been married for at least 20 years, have served in the military for at least 20 years and at least 20 of those years overlapped, your ex might be entitled to a portion of your retirement income. This is a hard pill to swallow for career service members, but you have to think carefully about how you are going to handle this issue.

Financial impact

If you are responsible for paying your ex any child or spousal support, there is a good chance that the payments will come out of your checks and be disbursed by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Child support, for example, can handled this way. Spousal support payments might be handled person-to-person, making you responsible for writing your ex a check at predetermined intervals.

Child custody decisions

Just because you are in the military doesn’t mean that you can’t have custody of your children. Military service isn’t a disqualifying factor for child custody. If you are pursuing this option, you will need a family care plan. This plan sets out guidelines for who will care for your children during short-term and long-term assignments. Typically, you need someone who lives close to you for short-term care, but this isn’t a requirement for long-term care. In many cases, your ex will be this person if you have custody of the children.

Visitation with your children after military divorce

If you don’t have custody of your children or are out on a deployment, you need to have a set visitation plan. You can appoint a family member to have visits with your child in your stead. You can also set up a plan for virtual visits that will enable you to continue to nurture your relationship with the kids. This type of visit uses video chats and similar methods for you to be able to communicate with each other.

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