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Everything You Need to Know About Going Through a Military Divorce

All divorces are unique, especially military divorces. Military divorces fall under federal law and it's important to find an attorney that is familiar with handling these types of divorces.

Military divorces are different from civilian divorces in a number of ways. The most important distinction is that certain aspects of these divorces fall under the jurisdiction of federal law, rather than state law. This can make the process more complicated, and it is important to work with a military divorce attorney who understands the intricacies of these cases. Another factor that can complicate military divorces is the division of military retirement and pension benefits. In this blog post, we will explore some of the key factors involved in military divorces in New Mexico.

Why Military Divorces Are Different

Military divorces are governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). This federal law provides certain protections to military spouses, but it also creates some challenges. Matters of jurisdiction, custody, how to divide military retirement, whether payments can be made directly from DFAS, and a host of other issues come along with a military divorce. At New Mexico Legal group we understand how daunting all of this can seem. Many of our attorneys have extensive experience handling military divorce cases whether they are representing the person serving or their spouse.

Dividing Military Retirement and Pension

In a civilian divorce, retirement benefits are generally considered to be marital property and are subject to division. However, military retirement is different. The USFSPA provides that military retirement may be divided in a divorce, but the division must be done through a special court order . This can be a complicated process, and it is important to have an attorney who is familiar with these types of orders. There are several different methods of calculating the portion of military pension to which an ex-spouse is entitled.

Where You File Matters

In a non-military divorce you can generally file for divorce in the state where you live or the state where your spouse lives. However, in a military divorce, things are different. It is important to consult with an attorney who has experience handling military divorces. The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides that a service member can only be sued in a state where they reside, are stationed, or are domiciled.  In some cases, this can be the state of legal residence for tax purposes. This can have a significant impact on where you file for divorce and what state’s laws will apply to your case.

How Long You’ve Been Married Is Important

The length of the parties’ marriage in military divorces is extremely important, primarily as it impacts the financial outcomes in your divorce. In the military, 20 is an important number. If you and your spouse have been married 20 years, at least one of the spouses has served for 20 years, and both of these have overlapped by 20 years, the non-military spouse is entitled to certain benefits, such as base privileges and TRICARE. This can also be referred to as the 20/20/20 rule. Spouses that meet the 20/20/20 rule can also receive their retirement payments directly from DFAS. Even if a marriage does not meet the 20/20/20 rule, the civilian spouse may still get direct payments from the DFCS if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and overlapped with 10 or more years of military service.

What Is The Process For Getting A Military Divorce In New Mexico?

The process for getting a military divorce in New Mexico is similar to the process for a civilian divorce. Keep in mind, you still have all the divorce options available to people who are not in the military. The only difference is everything is done with military benefits in mind.

New Mexico Legal Group Can Help

If you are considering a military divorce, it is important to consult with an attorney who has extensive experience handling military divorces. The New Mexico Legal Group attorneys can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected all while saving you time and money. If you have any questions regarding military divorces or child custody matters, contact us today at 505-405-8243 (Albuquerque) or 575-339-2100 (Las Cruces).