A military divorce presents unique challenges compared to a civilian divorce. Not only are you navigating the emotional complexities of ending a marriage, but you also need to consider the impact on your hard-earned military benefits. These benefits, including retirement pay and survivor benefits, are crucial for your financial security after service and for your spouse’s well-being. To ensure a fair and informed divorce settlement, here are 5 essential steps you must take:

1. Protect Your Military Retirement: Don’t Leave Your Financial Future to Chance

Military retirement is a significant financial asset, representing years of dedicated service. It provides a steady income stream after you leave active duty. In a divorce, a portion of your retirement pay is considered marital property and may be divided between you and your spouse. Protect your financial security post-divorce by understanding how this division works.

The process of dividing military retirement involves specific formulas and regulations outlined in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). These regulations ensure a fair division based on the length of your marriage during your military service. Consulting with a lawyer experienced in military divorce is essential. They can help you understand the complexities of USFSPA calculations and advocate for a fair and accurate division of your retirement benefits.

2. Understand Survivor Benefits: Ensuring Your Spouse’s Security

The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) is a program that allows service members to provide financial support to their spouses after their death. You can elect to have a portion of your retirement pay deducted to provide your spouse with a monthly benefit. During a divorce, you’ll need to determine if adjustments to your SBP election are necessary.

Reviewing your SBP election with your lawyer can serve two key purposes. First, it ensures your spouse receives the financial support they need if you pass away. Second, it can be used as leverage during divorce negotiations. You may be able to offer your spouse a larger portion of the SBP in exchange for a more favorable settlement on other issues, like property division.

3. Utilize the Protections of the Service-members Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that safeguards deployed service members from various legal proceedings, including divorce. This protection is important to prevent default judgments in your absence.

If you’re deployed when your spouse files for divorce, SCRA can shield you from being forced to appear in court until your return. This allows you to participate fully in the divorce proceedings and ensures your interests are represented. Additionally, SCRA can delay the legal proceedings until your return, giving you time to adjust to your new circumstances and gather the necessary information.

4. File in the Right Location: Venue Shopping for a Fair Outcome

The location you choose to file for divorce, known as jurisdiction or venue, can significantly impact the outcome. Divorce laws vary by state. Choosing the right venue ensures a fair application of laws that benefit your situation, particularly regarding property division and child support calculations.

Some states offer specific protections and considerations for military divorces. These may include a more favorable approach to dividing military retirement pay or considering deployments when determining child custody arrangements. Consulting with your lawyer about filing in a state with these benefits safeguards your rights and ensures you receive a fair settlement.

5. Understand the Impact of Deployment: Navigating Uncertainty

Deployments can add a layer of stress and uncertainty to an already challenging situation. The unpredictable nature of deployments can cause delays in divorce proceedings, impacting your emotional well-being and delaying a resolution.

Deployment can also significantly impact child custody arrangements. A parenting plan developed before deployment might need adjustments to accommodate your absence. Discussing these changes with your spouse and incorporating them into the divorce agreement is essential.

Financial strain is another concern during deployment. Deployments can affect your income and financial obligations, potentially impacting calculations for child support and spousal support. Working with your lawyer to address these changes in your financial situation ensures a fair and realistic settlement.

Facing a Military Divorce? Don’t Go It Alone

A military divorce presents unique challenges, but with the right guidance and preparation, you can protect your hard-earned military benefits and ensure a fair outcome. Our dedicated lawyers at Cannon & Associates can help you take the necessary steps to protect your military benefits and ensure a fair outcome. Our team of legal professionals has extensive experience handling military divorce cases and is committed to protecting your rights while securing the best possible outcome for you. 

Call Cannon & Associates today at (405) 657-2323 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free case strategy session with one of our experienced military divorce lawyers. We can answer your questions, discuss your specific situation, and help you navigate the complexities of a military divorce. 

Don’t leave your financial future or your rights to chance!