What is important to you? Is it the children, the military pension, or spousal support? That is how our Pennsylvania divorce attorneys start conversations with service members or their spouses who are considering a divorce.
The above three things are what's most important to people in a military divorce. How will the pension be divided? Will child and/or support be ordered and if so, how much?
When couples are living the military lifestyle, children and money are key issues, especially when frequent moves and long deployments complicate these matters.
Often, the military spouse has young children and because of the frequent moves or size of the young family, the non-military spouse is a stay-at-home parent or underemployed, which means that in the event of a divorce, the military spouse is responsible for child and spousal support.
What happens to the pension?
In many cases, child custody isn't an issue because the military spouse often goes on long deployments. If the family lives in military housing, there's no house to divide. So, the biggest financial concern is what happens to the military pension.
When a service member retires after 20 or more years in active service, they receive a retirement pension for the rest of their life. In 1982, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) was passed, which treats military pensions like marital property in a military divorce.
Under the USFSPA, if a couple is married for 10 years, the non-military spouse is entitled to half of the military pension, however, that's negotiable and many people don't realize this.
If a couple was married long enough for the service to overlap the marriage, they usually agree on a smaller percentage of the pension, but in exchange, the non-military spouse takes other marital assets.
Essentially, spouses of service members should ensure that the military pension is addressed during their divorce proceedings, not after it's over, even if the retirement is years down the road.
You want to ask your spouse about their pension and its value and get as much information as possible. If the military spouse won't share this information, you'll need a divorce attorney to ensure that the pension is properly addressed during your divorce proceedings.
For assistance with a military divorce in Pennsylvania, contact Cairns Law Offices for a free consultation.