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What Is a Military Spouse Entitled to in a Divorce?

What Is A Military Spouse Entitled To In A Divorce?

Virginia law requires the court to divide marital property according to equitable distribution. Even if you were married to a military member, the same law would apply to your divorce while determining how to split your assets.

However, equitable doesn’t necessarily mean an equal share. The court reviews all relevant factors and bases its decision on what will be fair for each spouse.

For example, if you were a stay-at-home parent during the marriage, you might require a greater share of the marital property. You have limited earning capacity, so it would be more equitable to receive assets you can use to pay living expenses.

As a military spouse, you are entitled to various benefits during divorce in Virginia, including:

  • Military pension
  • Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

You will also likely receive primary custody of any minor children you share. Since service members spend significant periods away from home, their spouses can provide a more stable living environment for the kids.

You could also petition the court for higher child support payments since you will be expected to care for your kids while your husband or wife is in training or on active duty.

Military spouses are responsible for paying for their child’s education, healthcare, housing, food, and other necessities. A child support award that reflects those daily needs is often necessary.

Legal Assistance for Military Divorces

Service members and their spouses can receive free legal assistance during divorce or other family law issues. These services can include:

  • Notary services
  • Mediation
  • Legal advice on matters, including income taxes, divorce, child custody, wills, and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
  • Separate lawyers for the service member and their spouse

What Is The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act?

According to The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, former spouses of military members might be entitled to medical care, part of the service member’s retirement plan, and exchange and commissary benefits.

If you have not remarried and meet the requirements of the 20/20/20 rule below, you could receive various military benefits from your former spouse:

  • Your marriage lasted for at least 20 years at the time of filing for dissolution, divorce, or annulment
  • Your ex participated in creditable service for at least 20 years, whether retired or still serving
  • You were married to your spouse for at least 20 years of their creditable service

You might also be entitled to TRICARE medical coverage if you do not have access to the military installation, exchange, or commissary privileges and meet requirements under the 20/20/15 rule:

  • Your former spouse served at least 20 years of creditable service
  • You were married for at least 20 years
  • The period of your ex’s military service overlapped the years you were married by at least 15 years

Effect of Divorce on Military Benefits

When you are the spouse of a service member, you can obtain a military dependent identification (ID) card. Even if you don’t meet the 20/20/20 rule requirements, you can keep your ID and continue collecting exchange, commissary, and healthcare benefits until you finalize your divorce.

Divorce from members of the military can affect the former spouse in multiple ways, including:

  • Healthcare – When you divorce a service member, you lose your TRICARE benefits. However, you can apply for temporary coverage for up to 36 months through the Department of Defense Continued Health Care Benefit program.
  • Installation housing – When you or your military spouse moves out of the marital home, you typically lose installation family housing within 30 days of the move.
  • Spousal and child support – Military services often have policies requiring members to support their family members following a separation if there isn’t a court order or formal agreement. However, these policies only offer temporary support.
  • Moving expenses – The non-military spouse could recover the cost of moving upon returning home from a duty station overseas.

How Invictus Law Could Help

As former prosecutors with years of experience, the legal team of Invictus Law brings a depth of knowledge and skills to each case we take. When you hire us, we will protect your rights and aggressively seek the outcome you want to achieve.

Call us at (757) 317-5125 today for a consultation and learn more about how we can help you during your military divorce or another family law matter in Virginia Beach.

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