Military Divorce

Military divorce, is defined as a divorce where one of the parties (the “service member”) is active duty military, reserve or guard, or retired military. This is not a “legal” term that is recognized within the context of the law, but a lay term used to describe a divorce where one of the parties is a service member (regardless of the member’s status).

Divorce and the military require a special knowledge of laws not applicable to civilian divorces. For example, federal legislation entitles active members of the armed forces to delay a divorce and to court-appointed counsel in certain circumstances.

Military pensions like their civilian counterparts are divisible in the event of divorce, but are subject to different rules than the more common Qualified Domestic Relations Orders for private retirement accounts or Domestic Relations Orders for state and municipal pensions.

Alimony and Child Support are also subject to special rules. Calculating income and collecting support can be more complicated because of regulations governing active or retired members of the military. For example, familiarity with the definition of “Disposable Retirement Income”, is key to establishing support orders when dealing with retired military personnel.

Federal law may also affect where the parties end up in court, so planning and strategizing require a thorough grasp of the special rules governing military divorce.