Members of the military are subject to special rules when it comes to divorce. Military rules control how a military member's pension is divided. The amount of spousal support is based on the law of the state where the divorce is filed. The divorce may be filed in the state where the military member is stationed, where legal residence is claimed or where the spouse resides.
Dividing the Property
When determining spousal support, it is important to consider marital property division. In some cases, an award of property to one spouse may be considered a form of support. The division isn't necessarily equal; it is based on what is fair and equitable. Property owned before marriage or received through gift or inheritance is considered separate property and isn't usually subject to division.
Military law governs the calculation and division of military pension benefits. A veteran's disposable retired pay can be treated either as his sole property or as his and his spouse's property. The military law doesn't have a formula for calculating the appropriate division of retired pay. An ex-spouse can receive up to half of retired pay, but state law determines the exact division.
Alimony and Spousal Support
Alimony, or spousal support, is the periodic payment of money from one spouse to the other. A receiving spouse may need alimony to have an opportunity to look for a job, update work skills, stay home with small children or attend school. Alimony isn't automatic; it depends on numerous factors, such as the couple's financial condition, their earning capacities and circumstances of the marriage.
Alimony can be permanent or temporary and can be paid in a lump sum or by periodic payments. Expect to pay more alimony for longer marriages and if you were the primary wage earner during the marriage. Alimony often ends upon the remarriage of the receiving spouse or the death of either person. Alimony can be modified when there is a substantial change in circumstances.
Questions for Your Attorney
- How does a military career factor into alimony awards?
- I'm entering the military and I'll make less money? Can my alimony be reduced?
- My spouse is in the Army and we don't agree on where to file our divorce case. What happens next?