In order to understand your military divorce rights, it is necessary to understand the military divorce laws that direct how your property will be distributed and other issues pertaining to your divorce. Military divorce laws are federal laws. However, they may be implemented differently in different states and state divorce laws may also play a role in your divorce settlement. For these reasons, it is important to hire an experienced military divorce lawyer to represent you in your divorce proceedings.
Federal Military Divorce Law
The most important federal military divorce laws include:
- Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA): this law allows states to treat military retirement pay as community or marital property, if the state so chooses. While the vast majority of states allow retirement pay to be treated as marital property pursuant to the USFPA, the states have very different ways of determining how to divide retirement pay. The USFPA also handles the division of other military benefits including housing and health care, for example.
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): the purpose of this law is to allow servicemembers to concentrate exclusively on their military obligations. Thus, civil actions, including divorce proceedings, may be stayed, or put on hold, while the service member is on active duty and for a short period of time after his active duty has been completed.
Each military divorce law described above is complicated and its implications are significant on the life of both parties to a divorce. Therefore, it is important to hire an attorney who understands military divorce law and can advics you on your military divorce rights. Your attorney can help you achieve a successful military divorce settlement that is consistent with all applicable laws and that meets your individual needs.