Divorce is a difficult and complex process, and it can be particularly difficult for couples when one or both spouses serve in the military. There are various things that can make a military divorce complicated, and it may be in your interests to know what to expect and how to protect your interests. Preparation can help you avoid unnecessary complications and have reasonable expectations.
A military divorce works in the same way that a civilian divorce does. However, there are a few issues that make these types of divorces unique, such as potential deployments and division of military pension. If you are facing a divorce and you are a military service member, or your spouse is, there are certain things you may need to know before you make a choice that can impact your future.
Custody factors to consider
In a divorce, a couple typically has the strongest feelings about child custody and division of marital assets. When one or both parents serve in the military, deciding on child custody and visitation is not always easy due to the following factors:
- Potential for future deployments
- Possible assignments to other bases
- Risk of physical injury to a parent
Whether a court will decide on custody or parents will attempt to work on these issues on their own, it is most practical and best for the children when the focus is on the needs of the kids above all else.
Financial factors to consider
There are specific laws in place that determine what happens to a military pension in the event of a divorce. Military pension benefits accumulated over the course of the marriage are likely marital property, making them subject to equitable division. How the non-military spouse gets those benefits, and how much his or her share may be, depends on the length of the marriage and how long that time overlapped the period of military service.
A spouse may also be eligible for additional benefits, such as medical coverage, access to the commissary and other privileges. The military also has specific rules in place that ensure a service member meets his or her spousal or child support obligations.
The future you want
Because of the unique and sometimes complex nature of a military divorce, you may find it beneficial to work with an attorney who can explain how Missouri state laws and military laws can affect your final divorce order. With help, you can intentionally pursue the future you want.