Getting Divorced in the Military

Divorce is a complicated matter. This is even truer when it’s a military divorce. For civilians, knowing where to file paperwork for a divorce is a no-brainer. For military spouses, the confusion starts right away. The couple may have married in one state, but is currently stationed in a different and own a home in a third state. Where should they file for divorce?

While you would need to choose a state you actually lived in, having these options can be beneficial for military members and their spouses in a divorce. Each state has different laws, and some are better suited for your situation. Keep in mind that you will likely need to travel to the state in which you choose to file your divorce, so you may want to avoid somewhere across the country.

Military law is complicated in other areas as well. If you or your spouse is in the military, here are some things you’ll need to keep in mind.


A military spouse is often eligible to receive alimony from the military member, based on state laws. In fact, alimony tends to be common in military divorces because the non-military spouse is often unemployed and staying at home raising young children.

Unlike civilians, military members face strict punishment for failure to pay alimony. This is considered a form of misconduct that can lead to discharge if the military member does not keep current on alimony payments.

Child Custody

Money and children are big issues in military divorces. Military members tend to be deployed for weeks or months at a time. Having a set custody schedule is just not feasible. Therefore, it’s not unusual for the non-military member to get full custody of the children. The lack of stability makes it difficult for a military member to see his or her children on a regular basis, let alone care for them full time. In any case, judges will determine the best interests of the child when deciding who should get custody.

Child Support

Because military members often don’t get custody of their children, they are responsible for paying child support. If a military member has frequent deployments, he or she will likely not have regular visitation. This places an extra burden on the custodial parent, who will be tasked with caring for the children 24/7 without much of a break. Therefore, he or she may ask for a larger than usual amount of child support to offset this.

While the military requires that servicemembers adequately support family members, the military cannot force a member to pay child support without a court order.  Therefore, get a court order if your ex-spouse is refusing to pay up. If he or she still refuses, you can seek wage garnishment.

Seek Advice from an Experienced Littleton Divorce Attorney

Military divorces can be much more complicated than civilian divorces.  There are residency issues to consider as well retirement pensions, child custody issues and more. The Denver divorce attorneys at Divorce Matters can help you through this stressful time.  Schedule your consultation today by contacting us at (720) 408-7469.

New Bill Could Affect Military Divorces

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) allows former spouses of servicemembers to collect retirement benefits based on the servicemember’s work in the military. Basically, the law allows military disposable retired pay to be considered marital property, thus subjecting it to equitable division in a divorce action. A new bill being proposed in Congress could shake up the USFSPA by limiting a former spouse’s claim to the servicemember’s retirement pay.

As it currently stands, the pay that a veteran’s former spouse receives upon the veteran’s retirement is based on the veteran’s rank and years served at the time of retirement. This means that the former spouse would receive benefits based on the veteran’s service that occurs after the divorce. So, if a servicemember gets divorced after the first year in the Navy, for example, and goes on to serve for another 10 years, all of the advancement during those 10 years would factor into the former spouse’s share of the retirement benefits.

If the new proposal goes through, instead of the former spouse receiving benefits for the servicemember’s entire military career, including advancement post-divorce, the benefits would be limited to the service member’s rank and years served at the time of the divorce.

Contact us for your Military Divorce

If you are currently serving in the military or are the former spouse of a servicemember, it would be wise to keep an eye on this bill.

The Denver family law attorneys at Divorce Matters can help veterans navigate the complex issues of retirement benefits in divorce.