Divorce is a difficult and heartbreaking experience for anyone, but for military spouses, it can come with added complications. When a service member and their spouse decide to part ways, there are numerous legal considerations that must be taken into account.
One of the most important considerations is determining what a military spouse is entitled to after divorce. These entitlements vary depending on a variety of factors, including length of marriage, location of divorce proceedings, state law, and more.
If you’re a military spouse facing divorce, it’s crucial that you understand your rights and entitlements during this process. This will not only help ensure that you receive everything you’re entitled to, but it will also provide you with valuable peace of mind during an otherwise stressful time.
“To know your rights is to empower yourself. This guide will help you navigate the complex world of military divorce and secure the benefits you deserve.”
In this article, we’ll break down the key entitlements available to military spouses following a divorce. From spousal support to healthcare coverage, we’ll cover everything you need to know to protect yourself and your future. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive in!
Divorce is one of the most difficult times for any couple, especially if they are in the military. Military spouses often face unique challenges when it comes to getting spousal support or alimony after a divorce. So what exactly is a military spouse entitled to after a divorce?
In order to receive spousal support, the military spouse must meet certain eligibility criteria. According to the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), military spouses who have been married for at least ten years and their partners served during that period continuously can be eligible for a portion of retired pay. This includes active duty, reserve, and guard members who completed 20 years of service prior to divorcing.
The USFSPA also specifies that the state court can award “spousal support,” which cannot exceed 50% of the disposable retired pay as long as this support does not affect financial support provided directly to family members.”
Factors Considered in Determining Support
Several factors are taken into consideration by courts when determining how much support should be awarded to a military spouse. These factors may include:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The age and health of both parties
- The earning capacity of each party
- The potential employability of the supporting spouse
- The nature and amount of considered marital property
- The conduct of both parties during the marriage
This means that if your marriage was longer and you were financially dependent on your partner, you may receive more spousal support. However, each case is unique and will be decided based on the specific circumstances.
Duration of Support
The duration of spousal support can vary depending on a number of factors such as the length of marriage, health of both parties, and financial status. Generally, it ends when one spouse dies or remarries. But if you are receiving alimony during that time, which means you won’t receive additional payments from your ex-spouse after these events take place.
In some cases, however, spousal support may continue beyond these two events. For example, if the former spouse becomes disabled and unable to work, they may still be entitled to receive regular payments from their partner.
Modification of Support Orders
If there are changes in the circumstances of either party, support orders can be modified through a request made to the court.
“A modification of spousal support may be granted if the following conditions are met: (1) there was a “material change” in circumstances since the order was originally entered, (2) the requested change in support is “reasonable and necessary,” and (3) the change in support is consistent with the overall goals of the original award.”
This means that if there is a significant decline or increase in income for either party, then that may count as a reason to modify spousal support. Such requests must go through a legal process where both parties have the opportunity to discuss and negotiate a new agreement.
Military spouses can be eligible for spousal support after a divorce under certain criteria. The amount and duration of support depends on various factors, including the length of marriage, quality of life, age and health, earning capacity, martial property, conduct of both parties, among others. Remember, if circumstances change in the future, it’s possible to modify support orders through a legal process.
Division of Military Retirement Benefits
Military spouses may be entitled to certain benefits after a divorce, including a portion of their former spouse’s military retirement pay. The division of these benefits can be complex and depends on various factors.
Types of Retirement Benefits
The type of military retirement benefit that a former spouse is eligible for depends on the length of service and date of marriage:
- Final Pay Plan: This plan is for those who entered service before September 8, 1980. In this plan, retirees receive a monthly payment equal to a percentage of their final basic pay.
- High-3 Plan: For those who entered service on or after September 8, 1980, this plan calculates retirement pay based on the average of the highest 36 months of basic pay.
- CSB/REDUX: Some service members opt for the Career Status Bonus (CSB)/REDUX plan, which provides a $30,000 bonus at 15 years of service but results in a reduced pension. Those choosing this plan will receive an annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) decrease at age 62.
Eligibility for Division of Benefits
A former spouse must meet specific criteria to be eligible for a share of the military retirement pay:
- The couple was married for at least ten years while one spouse served in the military;
- The service member has completed at least ten years of creditable service during the marriage;
- The divorce decree specifies a portion of the retirement pay as part of the settlement.
If the criteria are met, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will make payments directly to the former spouse based on decisions made in the divorce. However, if a former spouse remarries, they may no longer be eligible for payments.
Methods of Dividing Benefits
The “10/10 rule” applies to divorces that take place after September 29, 1982. In this case, DFAS will pay the former spouse their portion of retirement benefits directly from the service member’s pension. This method is standard and straightforward compared to other methods.
If the couple was married for less than ten years while one spouse served in the military, or if the service member did not have at least ten years of creditable service during the marriage, courts may consider dividing pension assets through an alternate method, such as using lump-sum buyouts or deferred division orders.
“Divorce can be complicated, especially when it comes to complex property such as pensions. Military pension division, in particular, has rules and laws that are unique to military families.” – JAG Investigations Inc.
In these cases, the courts may order one spouse to give up a different asset or award them compensatory maintenance instead of a portion of the pension. It’s best to consult with an attorney who understands military divorce law, as the approaches taken can significantly impact the future finances of both spouses.
A military divorce also affects the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The TSP is a defined contribution plan similar to a civilian employer-sponsored 401(k). If the court awards part of the TSP to the non-military spouse, the court must issue a Qualifying Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) specifying how much each party should receive.
“The goal of equitable distribution is to ensure that a fair share of marital property goes to each spouse.” – Cordell & Cordell
Divorce is a challenging process for everyone involved. However, military divorces are subject to specific rules that can make things even more complicated. It is essential to work with an attorney who understands these complex laws and will fight for your fair share of the assets.
Health Care Benefits
The military spouse is entitled to certain health care benefits even after divorce, provided they meet specific requirements.
Eligibility for Continued Coverage
Military spouses are eligible to continue receiving medical coverage under the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) if they were married to service members for at least 20 years and their partners had served in the military for at least 20 years. The 20/20/20 rule applies where the marriage must have lasted for a minimum of 20 years, the military member must have served in the military for at least 20 years, and the period of time in which overlap happens between the two has to be at least 20 years long. Spouses who do not meet these requirements may still be able to obtain TRICARE insurance through the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP).
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers various healthcare programs to dependents and survivors of veterans, including CHAMPVA. Additionally, they offer home-based primary care, skilled home health care, and hospice care services that can help your wellbeing. VA health care also includes gender-specific medical care tailored specifically to female veterans.
Furthermore, some states provide reduced-cost health insurance or Medicaid to low-income individuals. Military spouses should reach out to their state’s Department of Health and Human Services to determine eligibility requirements and application procedures.
TRICARE covers basic medical and dental care services, as well as behavioral health treatment, durable medical equipment, prescription drugs, and more. However, there are different types of TRICARE plans available, including:
- TRICARE Prime: Provides comprehensive healthcare services from a local civilian provider team with the lowest costs overall.
- TRICARE Select: Offers more flexibility in selecting healthcare providers but generally demands higher costs.
- TRICARE For Life (TFL): TFL covers services provided by private providers, Medicare-participating doctors and specialists as well as Tricare network providers.
It’s critical to be aware that coverage options can differ based on various factors like retirement status or location; spouses should know what kinds of plans are available before making a choice.
Termination of Coverage
Military government offers excellent health care benefits for its members and their families. However, eligibility terminates when the former spouse remarries, which is known as the “20/20/15” rule. If they’re waived under certain conditions, some participants may maintain CHCBP after remarriage with another partner without sacrificing other medical insurance unless otherwise eligible. The ex-spouse member would not have lost access to all VA healthcare however it could limit its extent through mishandling divorce settlements concerning the marital property.
“The most significant benefit a military service provides you with is health care. When you’re able to get regular check-ups, preventative treatment, and necessary treatments done, you’re going to stay healthier – as Elizabeth Warren says, ‘…healthcare is a basic human right’.” -Jared Polis
Military.com suggests being cautious about how your divorce settlement terms handle the allocation of benefits. Needless negotiating battles over spousal support and child custody tend to cause people to lose sight of health insurance benefits offered to former military dependents. Veterans Affairs will not intervene in legal disputes because they’re handled within civil courts so it is always worth involving an attorney whose area of expertise includes domestic relations along with experience working on behalf of military families.
Child Support and Custody
Military divorce cases usually involve a child support issue. Military spouses are entitled to child custody, just like civilian couples. However, the process of determining who gets custody of children can be complicated.
In most military divorce cases involving child custody arrangements, the court uses the best interest of the child standard that considers different factors such as the parent’s employment obligations and health status, the child’s preference, and many other relevant considerations. The court also recognizes that both parents have an essential role to play in their child’s life unless it is against the child’s safety and wellbeing.
The most important thing you can do when fighting for child custody is to work with an experienced family law attorney who understands the laws for military families and knows how to protect your rights.
Calculation of Child Support
Child support is a financial obligation that a non-custodial parent must pay to ensure that the child’s basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, education) are met. In military divorces, calculating child support payments may not be as straightforward as for civilians because service members receive additional allowances and benefits besides their regular income that count toward their gross income calculations for child support purposes.
The federal government has established regulations that governs military child support issues under both state and federal laws called the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA). According to USFSPA, several variables go into calculating the amount of child support payment that one parent owes another, including the number of children they share, each spouse’s income, and any special requirements or needs of the child.
“When deciding on child custody and child support disputes, courts always prioritize the child’s welfare above all else.” -Honorable Sonia Sotomayor
Furthermore, in military child support cases, the service member’s income is relevant to whether the fee will be made through wage garnishment. If a service member does not comply with a court order for child support payment, their commanding officer may initiate disciplinary actions.
Child custody disputes can be very complicated and emotionally stressful, especially when there are military divorce issues involved. A thorough understanding of the laws governing military divorces and federal regulations related to child support payments can help you avoid costly mistakes in your quest for justice and protection of your rights. Consult an experienced family law attorney today if you need legal advice on how to handle this delicate process.
After a military spouse goes through a divorce, they may be eligible for relocation benefits provided by the military. These benefits aim to assist former military spouses in relocating and starting over after their marriage ends.
In order to be eligible for these benefits, the military spouse must meet certain qualifications. Firstly, their divorce must have been caused directly due to the military member’s orders to relocate or deploy. Secondly, the divorced spouse must not have remarried nor cohabitated with someone else as a spouse within one year of the final decree of divorce. Lastly, the spouse must have been married to the military member for at least 20 years or more.
If you are unsure if you qualify for these benefits, it is best to contact your nearest military installation and speak with a representative who can help answer any questions you may have.
Types of Relocation Benefits
The military provides two types of relocation benefits for qualified spouses – the Monetized Value of the Benefit (MVB) or the Government Constructed Home (GCH).
MVB allows those who are eligible to monetize up to 95% of what the government would pay for moving expenses including packers, movers, shipping vehicles, etc. The amount is determined based on geographic location and income level. This means that the amount received may vary between individuals.
GCH offers military spouses a house built specifically for them in an approved area near the retired service member’s last duty station. This program aims to assist spouses who want to remain close to the vicinity where they were stationed throughout their spouse’s active-duty career. In this option, the waiting period may take longer but offers families a stable place to live without worrying about finding housing immediately after the divorce.
If you believe you qualify for relocation benefits, the next step is to begin the application process. The first thing to do is to get in touch with your nearest installation’s Family Support Center and obtain a DD Form 2958, Application for DoD Inventory of Assistance Eligibility & Certification.
Once this form has been filled out, it needs to be submitted to Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). If approved, spouses will receive an approval letter along with instructions on how to proceed with their chosen benefit option either MVB or GCH program through military housing.
If initial applications have been rejected, there are ways to appeal the decision made by DFAS. A formal appeal must be drafted and submitted within one year after receiving the notification of denied eligibility. Appeals should include any new documentation supporting their case, especially those that were not available at the time of the original application.
“Navigating through divorce can be challenging, but understanding your rights as a former spouse under these guidelines can help ease some stress during this transition period.” -Haley Britzky
Military divorces can often bring about uncertainty when it comes to relocating. However, if you meet the necessary requirements, you may be eligible for specific military relocation benefits. It is important to understand all options provided to make informed decisions about your future while embracing an exciting new chapter of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What benefits is a military spouse entitled to after divorce?
A military spouse is entitled to certain benefits after divorce, including commissary and exchange privileges, base access, and TRICARE healthcare benefits. However, eligibility for these benefits may vary depending on the length of the marriage and the service member’s years of service.
Can a military spouse receive a portion of their ex-spouse’s retirement pay?
Yes, a military spouse may be eligible to receive a portion of their ex-spouse’s retirement pay as part of a divorce settlement. This is known as a division of military retirement pay, and is governed by federal law.
What happens to housing allowances after a military divorce?
After a military divorce, a service member’s housing allowance may be impacted, as it is based on their dependency status. If the service member has dependents, they may continue to receive the full housing allowance. If not, the allowance may be reduced or eliminated.
Is a military spouse entitled to healthcare benefits after divorce?
A military spouse may be entitled to TRICARE healthcare benefits after divorce if they meet certain eligibility requirements. These include being married to the service member for at least 20 years, the service member having at least 20 years of service, and the marriage overlapping with the service member’s service for at least 20 years.
What happens to the military ID card after divorce?
After divorce, the military ID card must be returned to the issuing authority. However, certain individuals may be eligible to retain their ID card, including those who are eligible for TRICARE healthcare benefits or have been awarded a portion of their ex-spouse’s retirement pay.