(Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, US Coast Guard, Public Health Service, NOAA Commissioned Corps)
Divorce is never easy and when you are a member of the uniformed services or a retired member, there are complicated issues which must be resolved. We can help you navigate these challenges and receive the just and equitable results you deserve.
Division of Military Retirement upon Divorce
States can divide military retirement benefits as part of a divorce. In 2017, certain rules changed and pension division at the time of divorce is now based upon pay averages, cost of living adjustments, and the service members time in service. Depending on the length of the marriage, this division may be paid directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). This area of the law is fraught with pitfalls that a general divorce attorney may not understand. You need an experienced attorney to assist you through the process.
Veterans Disability Compensation Waiver
When a veteran is collecting disability, these payments are not divisible in a divorce. However, the veteran who is ordered to pay support may have this compensation garnished to pay domestic support obligations. Disability compensation is excluded under the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act’s definition of disposable retirement pay.
Former Spouse and Children’s Survivor Benefit Plan Coverage
Under the Survivor Benefits Plans, ex-spouses and children may be entitled to certain benefits after the military sponsor dies. The service member must authorize this coverage in writing. Oftentimes, these benefits are negotiated as part of a divorce. Without knowing the systems, you can leave a lot on the table in a divorce. These benefits can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
TRICARE and TRICARE for Life; Continued Health Care Benefits Plan (CHCBP)
Following a divorce, children of the marriage remain covered under TRICARE. Ex-spouses are only covered under TRICARE if the marriage satisfy the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15. Do you qualify? However, spouses who do not meet this threshold may be entitled to care under CHCBP. Under current law, this coverage could continue throughout the life of the ex-spouse.
Uniformed Services Thrift Savings Plan (US-TSP) Division
Spouses, or dependents, may be awarded part of these retirement plans by court order. It is important to be aware that if such an award is made, the account may be frozen, preventing withdrawals, or taking any loans until such payments or distributions are made. The court may order these distributions immediately, or at a future date. TSP orders are fraught with intricacies that are generally unknown to those unfamiliar with military family law.
Military (SGLI) and Veterans (VGLI) Life Insurance Issues in Divorce Cases
SGLI benefits are for active members of the military while VGLI is life insurance for veterans. During a divorce proceeding, the party holding the coverage may be ordered by a state court to not change beneficiaries. However, in some instances, federal laws may prevent the court order from being enforced. You should discuss this situation with your attorney as the laws that govern can be confusing.
Child Support Issues involving Military Parents
As with all parents, military parents have an obligation to provide for the financial security of their children. Military pay may be garnished to ensure payment of this obligation. For active military members, only certain parts of their compensation package may be included in their gross monthly income. Mistakes are often made by attorneys unfamiliar with military pay. Are you getting the right amount of child support? Are you paying too much?
Service of Process Upon Members of the Uniformed Services
Serving a summons on an active military member is never easy. In some cases, service can be done via registered or certified U.S. mail if the service member is stationed overseas. In other cases, international law must be followed. We can discuss what options will work best in your specific case during a consultation.
Service Members Civil Relief Act Stay of Proceedings in Divorce and Custody Cases
Active military members have a federal right to defend themselves in a divorce and custody proceeding. Should their ability to defend themselves be affected by their military service, they may be able to request a Stay of Proceedings for the time of their service plus 60 days. This is a common topic during a consultation.
Military Custody Issues Involving Children and Deployed Parents
There are always concerns about maintaining a stable home for a child, even after a divorce. An active military member may be deployed and this can be disruptive to the child’s education and interfere with the other parent’s right to see the child. Should a custodial parent be deployed, in some cases, the parents can agree to an alternative custody arrangement for the duration of the deployment period. In some cases, rights of visitation can be assigned to other people close to the child.
Georgia Military Parents Rights Act and the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act
Issues surrounding child custody during deployment are complicated. Georgia adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) which provides guidance for the courts to help parents resolve issues pertaining to deployment, custody, and visitation. A parent who is deploying must notify the other parent. In some cases, we can help you work out a suitable arrangement that will allow a non-custodial parent who is not deploying temporary custody until you return from deployment.
Correction of Military Records Involving Survivor Benefit Plan Elections
A common post-divorce mistake is failing to change your SBP elections. We can help ensure that designations of beneficiaries and survivor benefits are properly changed after a divorce. This will ensure that should something happen while deployed, your intended beneficiary will receive survivor benefits.
If you are facing a military divorce, there are numerous issues which must be resolved. Contact John Camp Law, LLC for help with a divorce involving a military spouse.