Examples of Problems You and Your Spouse Need to Address During a Military Divorce
While a similar group of questions (below) could be asked of any of the factors that are, involved in military divorces, the following will serve as one example that illustrates your need to know how your divorce will be affected by the USFSPA.
Is the military spouse a member of the Reserve or National Guard? Do you know how military retired pay is divided when the pay is based on the points earned by members of the Reserve and Guard Forces? Or a combination of active duty and inactive duty? How the calculations are made and when? If not, you need to educate yourself. (If your attorney cannot answer these questions off the top of his head, then you really need to educate yourself in this area, or you will be spending a lot of money for him or her to get up to speed.)
If you live in an area where there is no military presence, then finding an attorney who knows about the USFSPA may be a problem. Your attorney’s knowledge of this law must be the cornerstone of your representation; if it is not, you may end up paying thousands of dollars more than you should because your attorney is not experienced in this specialized area of family law, and you end up having to "educate" your own attorney at your expense.
If you are the non-military spouse, do you know what benefits you will be retaining and which you will be losing upon divorce? Couples may need to negotiate the monetary loss of federal benefits. The spouse needs to be aware of all sources of income for the active duty service member, such as special pays.
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OTHER BENEFITS -- Under the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) a former military spouse is eligible for full medical, commissary and exchange privileges when 1) the marriage lasts at least 20 years, 2) the military member performs at least 20 years of service creditable for retired pay, and 3) there is at least a 20-year overlap of the marriage and the military services. If the spouse remarries, eligibility for benefits is terminated. The benefits are revived if the subsequent marriage ends in divorce.
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