Deciding to split is always painful, and the process is very draining. For active duty military members, there are many additional considerations as well. They are not much more complicated than any other divorce, but they do require special attention and expertise.
If you are a member of the military or the spouse of one, it is important that the attorney you trust with the best interests of your family understand these unique challenges.
Up to state laws
The first consideration is always the laws of the state where divorce is filed. Unlike most military issues, there is no military standard and Florida laws prevail for any divorce filed here under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA).
The one place where military procedure comes into play is for some of the benefits. A divorcing spouse is eligible for full commissary and medical benefits under the “20/20/20 Rule,” which specifies they are applicable if:
- There were 20 years of military service during the marriage
- The military spouse(s) have 20 years or more of service total
- The marriage lasted 20 years or more
This only applies for full military benefits, however. Tricare can continue under certain circumstances for all divorcing partners and their children.
Child support can be different
One of the unique considerations for military members is the net of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS). Because these are tax-free benefits, they are evaluated as a greater share of net income. Alimony and child support can be much higher than it would be for non-military member.
These are only some of the ways in which the benefits for active duty military members are treated differently than regular income under Florida law. Similar issues appear in calculating retirement benefits, even those not applicable for full transfer under the 20/20/20 Rule.
For these and many other reasons, any active duty military member or their spouse contemplating a divorce needs to have a family law attorney representing them who is experienced in military divorce.
Failure to address the unique issues that arise from military benefits can result in unnecessary hardship for one or both of the divorcing partners.