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Military Divorce Facts

Posted by attorney Howard Lewis

Just as in a civilian divorce, a military divorce will involve procedural requirements, property distribution, and perhaps child support or maintenance. It is the division of military retired pay that presents some unusual considerations in military divorce.

In the process of doing discovery, your attorney will need information from you and also needs to know whether any of the factors will affect your particular situation. These factors include the following:


The service member often has a choice of which state to file in, commonly known as "forum shopping." Some states are more favorable to the military member, others to the spouse.

Disability Pay

Is the service member already retired? Receiving disability pay? If the military member is still on active duty, what possibility is there that he or she will apply for VA compensation? VA compensation reduces the amount of disposable retired pay going to the former spouse.

Active Duty Status

If the service member is still on active duty, the decree must address the requirements of due process under the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act.

Separation Bonuses

Does the service member anticipate leaving active duty before the requisite 20 years’ service time is met for a military retirement? Does your state recognize such a bonus as marital or community property? if the member plans to join the reserve/guard, there are restrictions on the bonus and pay-back requirements. These situations must not only be anticipated, but addressed by the divorcing couple.

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