Military Divorce Attorneys
Providing Family Law Services to Servicemembers and Families
Divorces involving active and retired military service members often present an array of unique issues. Military divorce is familiar terrain for our legal team at Kaspar & Lugay, LLP, where you can count on experienced, effective representation in the resolution of your legal issues. Our military divorce attorneys can provide sound guidance for matters such as:
- Child custody and child support issues
- Questions regarding paternity
- Spousal support / alimony
- Division of assets, debt, and pensions
Protecting Military Families’ Relationships & Futures
We are prepared to represent servicemembers and their families stationed at any US military base throughout the state of California, as well as those deployed overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere. Our strengths specific to military families include:
- In-depth knowledge of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and other related laws
- Proven ability to resolve complex child custody and visitation matters in ways that do justice to our client’s parental rights as well as the best interests of children
- Financial acumen that can be invaluable in unraveling the complexities of child and/or spousal support calculations when military compensation and benefits are involved
- Technological resources that support clear communication by e-mail or other means wherever you, your spouse and children currently reside
Jurisdiction in a Military Divorce
One of the most prominent questions regarding military divorce is where you should file. This can be a complex question—especially when a servicemember is deployed. In most cases, the divorce action should be filed in the state where the two parties reside; this does not mean where the servicemember is currently stationed. For example, if the serviceman or woman is sent to another state, they may not be able to file for the divorce there as the court may view it as a temporary absence. However, the court may be able to argue that the serviceman or woman’s involvement in a case gives consent and gives recognition of local laws.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law designed to protect all of those who are in active military service from being sued. This does not stop a civil lawsuit from happening—such as a divorce action—but it does give the servicemember a chance to either delay the legal action or participate in a different way, such as through video conference.
Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA)
There are countless issues that occur when a member of the military and his / her spouse choose to end their marriage that make it more complex than a civilian divorce. Most of these concerns are centered on eligibility for the commissary, exchange and health care benefits, as well as the servicemember’s retired pay. These are addressed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA), which helps divide pensions.
Under this law, the military disposable retired pay is treated as marital property and is thus eligible to be divided as such during the divorce proceedings. Local courts can treat it exactly as they would treat a civilian pension plan; for example, it could be divided during property settlement.
How the military retired pay is divided will be based entirely on state law – The USFSPA includes the 10/10 rule. For this to be enforced during a divorce, the marriage in question must have lasted for at least 10 years during which military service was performed.
Survivor Benefit Plan Beneficiary Designation
Under the USFSPA, former spouses can also receive a designation as a Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiary, which allows retired members of the military to provide income to an individual in the event of their death. All retired servicemembers are enrolled in this program unless they specifically decline. In the event of a military divorce, the initial designation is terminated; however, there are instances where coverage can be continued. For example, it may be voluntarily continued, a court order may demand it, or it may just honor an agreement.
Former Spouses & Military Benefits
In certain instances, the former spouse of a servicemember may continue to receive certain benefits after a divorce. These benefits include commissary, exchange, and health care.
To qualify, the following must be true:
- The servicemember served at least 20 years;
- The marriage lasted at least 20 years; and
- The marriage and period of service overlapped by at least 20 years.
Should the above qualifications be met, the former spouse would be known as a “20/20/20 former spouse” and have full benefits. In instances where the first two bullet points are true, but the period of the marriage and service only overlapped by 15 years, the former spouse would be known as a “20/20/15 former spouse” and would be entitled to receive the full military medical benefits for one year after the divorce. After the end of that transitional year, the spouse will be able to purchase a DOD-negotiated conversion health policy.
Kaspar & Lugay, LLP, Provides Legal Services to Members of Our Armed Forces
The entire legal team at our Marin-based firm is committed to helping serve those who serve us in the military and their families. Work with an attorney at our firm who is committed to fully understanding your goals and finding the best path to resolving your family law issues. Call 415-843-6195 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.
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