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Divorcing a military member

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hurtyetstrong posted 4/25/2014 13:07 PM

Any of you have experience with filing against an active duty military member? WH just went active with the navy and is currently at officer training. When he gets back in 2 weeks we're supposed to be moving to first duty station.

I have no plans on moving and hope to have divorce papers waiting for his NPD butt. However I spoke with an attorney yesterday - he said he'd need to do a little checking into stipulations about filing with military members before we setup a meeting. On one hand it will make things like child support/spousal support easier because the military will make sure they're enforced. But on the other hand him living in another state could delay the process. So I'm waiting on him to get back to me and schedule a consultation.

I'm in Ohio by the way - can any of you with similar experience give me any info?

jjsr posted 4/25/2014 13:15 PM

I am married to a military member and a couple of things in your post struck me. As far as collection of child support or alimony, its not necessarily easier. It depends on his command. You could have allotments of his pay be made so you can get some money. Also you would be able to get half his retirement if he were to make a career out of it but I wonder if you hit him with divorce papers would he make a career out of it? Also you wouldn't be able to be on the health insurance. The kids, per divorce decree would be able to be kept on the health insurance but again I wonder if he would stay in if you were to divorce him.

Tearsoflove posted 4/25/2014 15:26 PM

My husband is retired military after 20 years of service. I was married to him the whole time.

First, as long as he is not deployed, you can divorce him. Military members who are deployed are protected from legal action.

Second, your entitlement to potential retirement is based on the length of your marriage and his staying in as are other military benefits for divorced spouses and dependent children.

Support issues are determined by civilian court.

Here is a resource that may help:

And you may also try googling divorcing a military spouse. has numerous helpful articles.

[This message edited by Tearsoflove at 3:33 PM, April 25th (Friday)]

StillLivin posted 4/25/2014 20:58 PM

Retired military M'd to retired military here!
Make sure you hire an attorney that has experience with dealing with military.
The Sailor's and Soldier's Relief Act (may be called something else now) protects him from being served whenever he is deployed, or TDY (which right now he is TDY). As long as he is PDY, or present for duty, at his permanent station, he can be served and divorce proceedings can commence.
If you were M for more than 10 years, and it was 10 years that he was in the military, you would be entitled automatically to some of his retirement down he road. However, you can still request some of his retirement anyway. Not saying it will happen, but I've seen stranger things. A judge will make the determination if you were M for a lengthy time period.
Now here is where it gets interesting. You have leverage. Because of the A, he may not want his gaining unit command to know. This COULD potentially by you some leverage in D negotiations. Just be careful that it isn't construed as blackmail.
Him living in another state may not be an issue. As a military member, I kept my residency. It is an option to change it, but my state didn't tax Soldiers so I never bothered to change my residence. Military members do not have to change their residency. He would actually have to fill out paperwork with the finance office to change his residency status. If you serve him soon enough, he won't have had the chance.
Tears of love gave you a good website to start. As his family member, you now have the right to go to a military installation and seek free counsel with the Staff Judge Advocate office.
Also, you may want to petition for his Survivor's Benefit Plan entitlements. You would need to speak with a Navy representative with the their admin folks for clarification of whether you are eligible to petition for this.
The Survivor's Benefit Plan is elected upon retirement. It is basically insurance on his retirement paycheck. Should you petition and win the SBP (you would have to modify it to ex spouse SBP upon D), if your H passed away, you would receive a percentage of what his retirement check would be. You would have to do any paperwork before day 365 of date of D. That is important to remember. You would only have 364 days to convert from SBP to ex-spouse SBP or it would be dropped no matter what a court ruled.
Good luck.

Tearsoflove posted 4/25/2014 21:23 PM

As his family member, you now have the right to go to a military installation and seek free counsel with the Staff Judge Advocate office

Still Livin, I'm not sure what branch you are but my husband is retired Air Force. The base legal office will not consult with dependents on civil matters. They will advise you to obtain legal advise from a non-military attorney. In fact, most of the time, they refer military members off base unless it directly pertains to military matters or is something simple like preparing a will.

Also, with regards to SBP, there is a premium involved that is paid monthly out of the retirement pay in order to elect for SBP. I believe it varies by pay grade and the percentage of retirement to be paid. My husband's retirement check is reduced by that amount each month (it's close to $100) so that if he dies, I can collect 60% of his retirement pay.

I'd also like to point out that in the case of a spouse who is putting retirement in jeopardy (affairs with subordinates, getting into trouble while drinking, etc.) who might end up being forced out or who is the type to cut off his nose to spite his face (get out just so you can't collect his retirement), a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. If you are offered a significant settlement amount in order to forgo retirement, it is worth it if there is a good chance your spouse won't make it to retirement or who will deliberately sabotage it.

[This message edited by Tearsoflove at 1:45 AM, April 27th (Sunday)]

StillLivin posted 4/25/2014 22:10 PM

Tears, thank you for the correction. HYS, yes, you can seek military legal counsel for minor questions and issues. They will not give you D counsel, but if you have questions about what UCMJ he may be prosecuted with, or about what military entitlements he may have, or will, you can see them. Many also have lists of civilian family law attorneys. They cannot recommend any particular attorney but can tell you which are family law, etc.
Exactly why it is important to have an attorney that is experience with dealing with military.

hurtyetstrong posted 4/26/2014 07:10 AM

Thanks for your replies.

WH and I have been married for 8.5 years. He was prior active duty Air Force, and then in the Army National Guard before commissioning in the Navy (yeah, I know, holy branch-jumping - all within a 4 year period)

When he was formerly active duty we had changed our military residency to Texas, but I'm assuming since he transitioned to the guard that it is back to Ohio.

He has 10 days of leave after graduation, 5 of which we had planned on using to find a house and pack up our current home. The kids and I were supposed to join him a few weeks later to move into the new place. I have a feeling once he knows what's going on, he'll use that full leave time to try to convince me to change my mind and won't leave to report until the last possible minute.

I plan to call some other attorneys to get second and third opinions. Thanks for your help.

hurtyetstrong posted 4/30/2014 09:18 AM

I spoke with an attorney that has military divorce experience. In our state (oh) we have the option of dissolution (where both parties agree to a separation plan including child/spousal support, visitation etc. and only takes a couple months and one court visit) in addition to a traditional divorce which would probably take upwards to a year. WH doesn't want to separate so I'm doubting we can avoid the traditional divorce route, but I would really love it if we could go the dissolution route.

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