There are many issues that can come up, some are similar to a civilian divorce and others are unique to military members and retirees.
- Child support
Service members are legally required to support their children. In addition to legal obligations, the Department of Defense requires service members to comply with support, custody and visitation orders. If not, the military may sanction a servicemember, including punishment as severe as separation from military service for failure to pay support.
Military pension benefits are part of the property that can be divided as part of a divorce. If a service member is already retired when a divorce begins, calculating and dividing the pension is relatively simple.
If retirement is years away and you want to do something other than divide the pension equally after the military member retires, the process is more complicated. The non-military spouse could obtain a payment at the time of the divorce representing his or her share, which will need to be calculated by an actuary or other expert.
- Medical benefits/TRICARE
The medical benefits program for active duty service members, retirees and family members is called TRICARE. After a divorce, a service member’s children continue to qualify for TRICARE. Unless the following requirements are met, a civilian ex-spouse won’t qualify for these benefits after a divorce:
- You don’t qualify for health insurance through your job.
- You haven’t remarried.
- You were married for at least 20 years, your ex-spouse has at least 20 years of military service and there was at least a 20-year overlap between those two time periods. Lesser benefits are available to ex-spouses whose overlap was at least 15 years.