Divorce is a difficult enough life change without the added stress of a military spouse. Whether your spouse is deployed, active duty, in the reserves, or even retired, there are many things to consider when divorcing a spouse who is serving or has previously served in the military.
First things first, retain the services of a divorce attorney specializing in military divorces.
Yes, there is such a specialization within the realm of divorce law. You will want to consider all of your options and understand what you are entitled to as a military spouse. For many military spouses, their married lives have been devoted to supporting their spouse’s military career, as well as caring for the home and any children they may have.
The frequent moves make earning a college degree and finding a stable job very difficult, and this can be disastrous in the case of divorce. With no pensions or benefits of their own, a military spouse needs a lawyer on their side who knows exactly what they are entitled to and only has their best interests at heart.
The retirement benefits of the service member are another thing to consider, as you may be entitled to part of it, depending upon length of marriage and length of time served by your spouse.
The sooner you can make a plan permanent, the better.
There are a few temporary policies enforced in all branches of the military that require the service member to support their family, spouse and children included. If the service member is the sole provider for the family, or they earn the majority of the family’s income, you may be entitled to alimony payments. As these policies are not meant to be a permanent measure, it is best to request alimony and child support through the civil courts as quickly as possible.
Set up as many outside supports as you can, as quickly as you can.
As soon as the service member files their divorce decree with Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, the ex-military spouse will no longer be eligible to receive Tricare health insurance. Any children, whether biological or adopted, of the service member will be eligible to receive this health care until their 21st birthday as long as they remain a dependent of the service member.
Dependency is determined based upon the custody agreement — your military divorce lawyer along with a Tricare representative will be able to help you understand eligibility requirements for your children.
Housing is another issue that will come up almost immediately upon discussions of divorce. The time limit within which you can continue to reside within military housing is usually 30 days immediately following the divorce. After such time, you will be required to vacate the premises.
There are many decisions to be made when it comes to divorce, especially when one of the spouses is an active duty service member. Contacting a lawyer who specializes in military divorce is an absolute must. Securing permanent court orders, such as child support and alimony, are vital to supporting yourself and any children you may have, as military policies are temporary when it comes to family support payments. Lastly, understanding the divorces effect on your health insurance and housing benefits will help you to get started on your own in the best way possible.