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Divorce is almost always a stressful, emotional time in a person’s life. If you are filing for a military divorce, you may have even more issues to deal with. While you will face many of the same divorce issues as you would face in a non-military divorce, you will also have some unique divorce matters to deal with. For more help, call Los Angeles divorce attorney Hossein Berenji today for a free consultation.

The following are issues to consider in a military divorce:

  • You must decide where to file your divorce papers
  • You must determine whether the non-military spouse is entitled to pension benefits
  • You must consider post-divorce benefits
  • You must determine whether there are any tax consequences attached to divorce decisions
  • The military spouse’s Thrift Savings Plan must be evaluated
  • The military spouse’s Leave and Earnings Statement must be evaluated
  • Spousal support and child support will be calculated

Understanding the Military Pension

If the military spouse has served at least 20 years, there may be a military pension involved. Spouses of military members may not understand the value of the military pension. As an example, a Captain or Colonel could be entitled to $72,000 or more a year on a retirement pension after 20 years of service.

Most military spouses who are divorcing will reap the greatest benefits from having either a fixed sum or a percentage of the pension given to them as part of the divorce settlement. In a marriage which has lasted less than 10 years, the pension is not an issue in the divorce. Upon the death of a military spouse, the pension for the ex-spouse ends, unless a Uniformed Services Survivor Benefit Plan is in place.  

Military Pay Division During Divorce

The military spouse will have a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES). This details earnings, deductions, years of military service, and rank. Base pay is separate from special pay, and food and housing make up the non-taxable benefits. Health benefits an ex-spouse of a military member may expect will fall under the 20/20/20, 20/20/15, and 20/20/10 rules.

If the military spouse has completed 20 years of service and also been married for more than 20 years simultaneously, then the ex-spouse is entitled to lifetime medical benefits. For a marriage lasting 20 years (with 20 years of military service), when the military spouse only had 15 years of service which overlapped with the marriage, then the ex-spouse may receive transitional military medical benefits for 12 months.

Where Will You File?

You often do not have much choice where to file for divorce. There are specific residency rules in each state which apply to divorce. In general, where you live is where you file. In a military divorce, residency requirements are more difficult to determine.

Consider this scenario:

Perhaps you and your spouse are originally from New Mexico, however, you were stationed in North Carolina, where you were married, then you were stationed in yet another state, where you purchased property. Now, you live in California. Where do you file for divorce?

If you have not lived in California for a sufficient amount of time to claim you are a resident, you may need to decide which state you should file in. Generally speaking, to file for divorce in the state of California, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for six months, as well as three months in the county you plan to file in—except in military divorces.

In a military divorce, you and/or your spouse must be stationed at a military base in the state of California. When deciding where to file for divorce, think about where you vote, what state your driver’s license was issued from, where you pay real estate taxes, and where you own the majority of your property.

Additional Information Regarding LA Military Divorce

The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, 50 UCS Section 521 allows divorce proceedings to be suspended when a military spouse is on active duty, and for 60 days after. The military can take advantage of this Act to keep from being served divorce papers while he or she is deployed or the military spouse can waive the Act.

The actual filing for a military divorce is very similar to that of any California divorce. As a community property state, all property and debts that a couple accumulates throughout their marriage belongs equally to each spouse.  

Property which one spouse had prior to the marriage, or property received by one spouse through an inheritance are not considered community property unless they are comingled with the couple’s married assets.

Child support is determined much as it would be in any divorce in California. One major exception is that in a military divorce, the amount of spousal support and child support is not allowed to exceed 60 percent of the military spouse’s pay and benefits.

Call Los Angeles Military Divorce Attorney Hossein Berenji Today

If you are contemplating a divorce and you, your spouse, or both of you are members of the military, it is essential that you speak to an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney who is knowledgeable about the complexities of military divorce.