Frequently Asked Questions About Military Divorces

Military personnel who want to get a divorce go through the same procedures as any other person. However, there are other factors that affect military divorces. For example, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act affects issues related to a military pension, spousal support, and child support. Here are some frequently asked questions about military divorces.

Can a Member of the Military Slow Down a Divorce?

During a divorce, one spouse issues the other spouse divorce papers. This spouse has to respond within a certain period of time. However, for a military divorce, the deadline for responding to your spouse's divorce papers can be extended if you're on active duty. Hire a divorce lawyer to help you get a "stay" order.

According to the ServiceMembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), you can request the court to delay divorce proceedings and other related claims like child support if you're on active duty. The delay can last for up to 90 days. You can file for an extension after 90 days. The delay is meant to help you clear your schedule and make time to participate in divorce proceedings.

What Are the Rules for Spousal and Child Support in a Military Divorce?

The rules for spousal and child support are different for military divorces. For example, a person in the military may be excused from their obligations for spousal and child support while they're in active duty. Some ways the court will enforce your obligations to support your child and ex-spouse include through a court order, an allotment, or a garnishment.

You may also be ordered to maintain life insurance to cater for your support obligations. Failing to pay spousal support is deemed to be service-discrediting misconduct. You may be discharged from duty. The court may also garnish your wages. Ensure you consult a divorce lawyer if you are behind on your child and spousal support payments.

What Happens to Your Military Pension After a Divorce?

If your spouse doesn't claim your military pension during a divorce proceeding, it may be difficult for them to do it after the divorce is finalized. Retirement benefits are issued through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). For these benefits to be provided to your ex-spouse, you need to have been married for 10 years. These ten years should overlap with your 10 years in service. 

This means your ex-spouse may not be eligible for retirement benefits if you were married for only 5 years of the 10 years you were in the military. It normally takes up to three months before the DFAS can start issuing out direct military payments. Your spouse may be eligible for up to 50% of your retirement benefits.