The military lifestyle can be challenging for couples, especially when faced with long periods apart during deployments and the high stress level of a military job. When these stressors lead to conflict that becomes impossible to resolve and a couple with one or both spouses in the military decides to divorce, there are some factors that are different than a civilian divorce.
It is important to know what specific things to be especially aware of if you experience a military divorce so that you can adequately prepare. Your divorce lawyer can help you navigate the particular hurdles that make military divorces unique. Here are a few pointers to discuss with your attorney regarding your individual situation.
Dividing assets and benefits
State law governs civilian and military divorces. However, service members may have benefits or assets that a civilian does not have access to. The non-military spouse may question how he or she may retain these benefits or assets following divorce. For example, there are specific rules that govern whether or not an ex-spouse may receive the military spouse's retirement benefits. This is a question to discuss with your lawyer, especially because in military divorces, there are federal laws that govern benefits such as retirement pay and health care.
Child custody issues and visitation
Child custody can be particularly challenging in a military divorce because one or both of the spouses may have to deploy abroad, and this inevitably affects custody and visitation. In addition, there may be issues surrounding the willingness of one or both spouses to allow the child to have contact with the other parent. If a military spouse lives elsewhere, how might that affect child custody and visitation both prior to the divorce and after establishing a custody agreement? These questions are of particular importance to service members. There are many other factors to take into consideration, such as the ages of the parents and the children as well as the mental health of all involved.
While a military divorce is similar to a civilian divorce in many respects, there are also some things that differ greatly. An attorney who has worked with military personnel and service members can be a great asset to have when facing a divorce with someone in the military.