Divorcing your spouse is always a confusing and sometimes painful experience. However, if your or your former spouse was or currently enlisted in the United States Armed Forces, then the situation becomes even more complicated. Between jurisdiction issues, military benefits and the exceptions to alimony, a military divorce can be a bit of a headache.
Whether you or your spouse is in the military, it’s important you’re prepared for what could happen during divorce filings. As military personnel, you could lose part of your benefits, medical plan or your pension plan. If you’re planning to divorce someone from the military, you could have the assets and benefits you deserve taken away from you.
If you are currently or about to file for a military divorce, it’s imperative you contact an experienced divorce court attorney.
Attorney Explains Military Divorce in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Military divorce proceedings are much more complicated than a standard divorce. It’s important you have legal counsel on your side so you’re ready in court. Contact Bacchus Law Firm for quality legal representation. Attorney Nisha E. Bacchus has spent years representing military divorces for members of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marine Corps.
Call (954) 500-5555 to set up your free consultation. Attorney Bacchus will overlook your case and help you decide what the best course of action is. Bacchus Law Firm represents people in military divorces throughout the Broward County area including Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Pembroke Pines and Fort Lauderdale.
Overview of Military Divorces in Florida
- Filing for Divorce Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SRCA)
- How is Military Retirement or Retired Pay Split in a Divorce?
- How is Military Benefits Divided in a Divorce?
- Additional Resources
Filing for Divorce Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SRCA)
The complications for a military divorce start right at the beginning thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SRCA), also known as the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Relief Act of 1940. The legislation states you cannot pursue legal action against deployed military personnel without a specific court order. You must have an affidavit of Non-Military Service before filing for a divorce from an active military member.
This can drag on legal proceedings for quite some time. In addition, SRCA allows legal proceedings to be stayed for 60 days once they’re returned from active duty. This is to prevent active servicemen from being held in default for failure to respond to a court order.
Another issue with military divorces is the jurisdiction of the divorce, or where to file it. You may be required to file it in the state in which you are based if you’re an active military member. Some file divorce proceedings at their permanent residence or the last place they lived as a married couple. Fortunately, many states provide exceptions to residency requirements for active duty servicemen who prefer to file where they’ve been stationed.
How is Military Retirement or Retired Pay Split in a Divorce?
Military divorces are unique because they’re subject to both state and federal laws. Federal law covers military benefits with the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). The act states a former spouse cannot be awarded any retirement benefits if their spouse was in their military.
However, it also states that state courts can treat disposable military retired pay as divisible property. This is also referred to as the 10/10 rule, which applies to former spouses who:
- Were married to your spouse for at least 10 years; and
- During the marriage your spouse performed at least 10 years of military service
You can only receive up to 50 percent of disposable retired pay if you meet the requirements of the 10/10 rule. If the courts grant you a portion of your former spouse’s retired pay, you will be sent direct payments from the Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS).
How Are Military Benefits Divided in a Divorce?
Military benefits including Tricare health care coverage are divided by either the 20/20/20 Rule or the 20/20/15 Rule. Both rules refer to Title 10 U.S.C. § 1072(2)(F), which states former military spouses are entitled to military benefits and installation privileges. The coverage stops once the former spouse remarries or has employer-covered health insurance.
Under the 20/20/20 Rule, an ex-spouse of a military veteran can recover military benefits including medical care if the requirements below are satisfied:
- The marriage lasted for at least 20 years;
- The military personnel served for at least 20 years; and
- The marriage and service period coincided for at least 20 years
The 20/20/15 Rule only offers Tricare health insurance coverage for up to one year from the date of divorce or annulment. To be eligible for benefits under 20/20/15, the following requirements must be met:
- The military service member performed at least 20 years of creditable service;
- The former spouse and military service member were married for at least 20 years;
- During the marriage, the military service personnel was active for at least 15 years, but less than 20 years
Be Ready for the Complexities of Divorce – Visit the official website of the United States Armed Forces, to learn more about divorce proceedings. Access the site to read an article written by Captain David Retland that generally explains how a military divorce works and how to cope.
Florida Divorce Forms – Visit the official website of the Florida Courts to access their divorce forms. Download in PDF or RTF form divorce forms for a simplified marriage, one with shared children or other supporting documents that may be useful.
Lawyer Explains Military Divorces in Broward County, FL
If you or your spouse was or is in the military and wises to divorce, it’s time to contact a lawyer. A military divorce is presided under both federal and state law, so it can be confusing. Many divorce attorneys are unfamiliar with the laws associated with military divorces and could endanger your case.
Nisha E. Bacchus is a reputable attorney with years of experience representing people in military divorces. She has worked with both active servicemen and former spouses of military personnel. She can assist you with her dedicated work ethic and knowledge.
Call (954) 500-5555 today to set up a free consultation. Bacchus Law Firm accepts clients throughout Fort Lauderdale and neighboring cities including Pembroke Pines and Hollywood.
This article was last updated on June 6, 2019.