A military divorce can differ in several ways from a civilian divorce. If you are facing a divorce from your military spouse, or if you yourself are active duty military, there are some special considerations you must know about.
Once you understand some general information about how child custody and retirement asset division works in a military divorce, you can make decisions about how to proceed.
Child custody and military relocation
One of the unique considerations facing military personnel is that of deployment and relocation. If you and your spouse are in agreement and are working on a collaborative divorce through mediation or alternative dispute resolution, you can build a provision related to military relocation into your custodial agreement. However, if you are in a contentious divorce that will go through the courts, a judge will make decisions about custody. It can be very difficult to modify custodial orders after they are set, but it is not impossible.
There is a federal law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, that protects the custodial rights of servicemembers who are called into active duty. This prevents a spouse from taking an action such as appealing to the court for a change in custody while the servicemember is deployed.
Dividing retirement accounts
Another factor to consider in a military divorce is that of retirement accounts. The military has special requirements that a couple must meet in order to divide retirement benefits. For example, a nonmilitary spouse must remain married to a service member for at least 10 years in order to qualify to receive half of the service member’s pension. Clearly, this is important to both the service member as well as the nonmilitary spouse, but for vastly different reasons. But you may also negotiate the pension, depending on the factors of your case.