Divorce is a challenging journey for anyone. When one or both parties involved are members of the military, though, extra layers of complexity are added to the process. Military divorces entail specific legal considerations, emotional stressors, and unique regulations that civilian divorces do not.

Service member with back to wife

If you or someone you know is facing a military divorce, understanding these aspects is crucial to navigate this challenging terrain.

What Makes a Military Divorce Different?

Military divorces differ from civilian divorces in various ways due to the nature of military service and its associated challenges. Here are some specifics that set military divorces apart:

  • Jurisdictional Complexities: Military personnel often move frequently, which can lead to confusion about where to file for divorce. In Missouri, the state where either spouse is stationed or maintains a legal residence is generally where you can file for divorce. This unique jurisdictional issue can be complex, and it’s essential to consult with an attorney familiar with military divorce laws in Missouri.
  • Stay of Proceedings: The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows military members to request a stay or postponement of divorce proceedings if their military service materially affects their ability to participate. This can slow down the divorce process and may require patience from both parties.
  • Pension and Benefits: Military divorces often involve division of military pensions, which follows specific rules under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). In Missouri, this means that the non-military spouse may be entitled to a share of the service member’s retirement benefits.
  • Relocation Issues: Military service can lead to frequent relocations, which may affect child custody and visitation arrangements. These arrangements need to consider the best interests of the child while accommodating the military parent’s service obligations.

Dealing with the Emotional Stress of Divorce

Divorce is a profoundly emotional process for anyone, but the unique challenges of military service can exacerbate the emotional toll.

Here are some strategies to help you cope with the emotional stress of military divorce:

Service member holding child
  • Seek Emotional Support: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups that can offer emotional support. Recognize that you are not alone in this journey, and sharing your feelings can help relieve some of the burden.
  • Professional Help: Consider seeking the assistance of a therapist or counselor to help you process your emotions. Therapy can provide you with the tools to manage stress, anxiety, and depression during this challenging time.
  • Prioritize Self-Care: Self-care is crucial during a divorce. Make time for activities that bring you joy, whether it’s exercise, meditation, or pursuing hobbies. Taking care of your physical and emotional well-being is vital.
  • Stay Informed: Understanding the legal aspects of your divorce can provide a sense of control and reduce anxiety. Consult with an experienced military divorce attorney who can guide you through the legal process.

Further Military Regulations and Divorce Scenarios

Military service comes with a unique set of rules and situations that can impact divorce proceedings. Here are some additional aspects to consider:

  • Deployment: If one or both spouses are deployed, it can complicate divorce proceedings. The SCRA provides protections for deployed service members, including the ability to delay court hearings. It’s essential to communicate and make temporary arrangements to address these issues.
  • Child Support and Custody: The military will often enforce child support orders, and failure to comply can have serious consequences. Ensuring child support is provided on time is crucial to protect the best interests of the child.
  • Domestic Violence: If domestic violence is involved in the marriage, military law may provide additional protections and resources for the victim. Reporting domestic violence is essential to ensure the safety of all parties involved.

Impacts of Divorce on Military-Related Benefits

Divorce can have a significant impact on military benefits, both for the service member and the former spouse. Here’s a look at how military benefits are affected by divorce:

  • TRICARE Healthcare: If you were covered by your spouse’s TRICARE health insurance, you may lose this coverage after divorce. However, the former spouse may be eligible for continued coverage under certain circumstances, such as meeting specific criteria and time limitations.
  • Military Housing: Divorce can affect eligibility for on-base housing. In some cases, the former spouse may be entitled to retain on-base housing privileges, but this depends on various factors, including the length of the marriage and the service member’s rank.
  • Retirement Benefits: As mentioned earlier, the USFSPA governs the division of military retirement benefits. In Missouri, the non-military spouse may be entitled to a portion of the service member’s retirement pay, depending on the length of the marriage and other factors.
  • Survivor Benefits: The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) allows the military retiree to provide financial support to the former spouse in the event of their death. The former spouse can be named as the beneficiary, ensuring ongoing financial support.
service member taking off ring

At Bruce Galloway Law, we are here to provide expert legal support and help you navigate this difficult journey. Our team is dedicated to ensuring the best outcome for your unique situation.

If you need assistance with your military divorce, contact us today for a consultation to discuss your options and move forward with confidence. Your future matters, and we’re here to help you protect it.