We are currently in a series on Military Divorces in Retirement. In our first blog post, we discussed how VA Disability benefits are unique in the context of a divorce. Yesterday, we looked at how military retirement pay is handled in divorce cases. Today, we’ll look at several other unique issues involving divorces involving retired military members.
While every Final Divorce Decree is unique, in the context of military divorces, they must have very specific language to protect both parties and ensure that the military can meet its obligations to both the servicemember and his/her ex-spouse.
First, the Decree must recite a brief statement about jurisdiction. While the court must, under state law, have proper jurisdiction over both parties, in the context of military divorces, the court must also satisfy federal rules regarding jurisdiction (at least insofar as the court is attempting to divide military benefits).
Second, the Decree must include several key findings regarding the servicemember’s benefits. The Decree should state specifically that the servicemember’s VA Disability Benefits are confirmed as his/her separate property. Likewise, the Decree should include a finding that the parties were married for more than 10 years during which the servicemember served 10 years of military service (if the court is purporting to divide the servicemember’s military retired pay).
Third, in the portion of the Decree dealing with division of property, the document will need to state the ex-spouse’s award of military retirement pay using specific language relating to the percentage awarded or the formula used to compute the award amount.
While these requirements may seem onerous, fortunately, this website from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service provides excellent guidance and sample language regarding this requirements. While a trained lawyer will still be needed to draft these provisions correctly into the Decree, fortunately, the DFAS provides strong guidance on how to make sure these Decrees can fully qualify.
As you can see, dealing with military benefits in divorce cases can be quite challenging. Thus, it is vital for all parties to have experienced Family Law Attorneys who have knowledge about these issues.
If you need representation in your military divorce, give our Family Law Attorneys a call at 214-236-2712.