Jenkintown Pennsylvania Military Divorce Lawyer
Many of the issues that arise in civilian family law apply to military families as well. There are, however, a handful of issues that are unique to military families that are affected by existing law and case precedent. For example, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) effects how retirement pay, health benefits, and eligibility for commissary are determined in a military divorce. If you’re enlisted or married to someone who is, it’s essential that you understand how marital and retirement assets will be divided, what the court takes into consideration when determining child custody, and how child and spousal support payments will be estimated after the court reviews your situation.
Child Custody and Military Divorce
Soldiers that are deployed overseas or are required to move from location to location will encounter unique issues when it comes to child custody and visitation. In general, the court will award custody according to what it believes is in the best interest of a child. If you or your spouse is actively deployed, it’s unlikely the court will award physical custody of your children to you. If both you and your spouse are in the military, the court will want to review how your possible deployment overseas could affect your children.
Our attorneys can help you evaluate the options available to you and discuss alternatives in case you or your ex-spouse are deployed. For example, it may be necessary to arrange for a close family member to take custody of your children until you are in a position to take custody of them again.
Division of Military Benefits after Divorce
The division of military benefits can be complicated by a number of factors. First, under the USFSPA, states may divide a serviceman’s pension if they have jurisdiction over him or her. This means a soldier stationed in Pennsylvania, but a resident of different state, must consent to giving Pennsylvania jurisdiction over him or her. If a serviceman does not give his or her consent to a Pennsylvania court, his or her ex-spouse will have to file a petition in the serviceman’s home state to have the military pension in question divided.
Secondly, there is no minimum number of years a military couple or serviceman has to be married before his or her pension can be divided. Rather, under the USFSPA, if there is 10 years of marriage that overlap 10 years of military service, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will cut a check for the ex-spouse in order to pay the military benefit so ordered. When a marriage is less than 10 years, the serviceman is typically responsible for paying his or her ex-spouse what is owed them.
Third, in the state of California, ex-spouses can elect when they want to be paid their share of a military retirement benefit under the so-called “Gilmore Election.” Essentially, this involves deciding whether you want to wait until a serviceman is retired or be paid now and risk losing additional benefits accrued over the course of a military career.
Contact Military Divorce Attorney Joanne Kleiner
There are a number of issues that need to be discussed and understood in military divorces. If you have questions and would like information regarding how we can help you, contact Jenkintown military family law attorney p Joanne Kleiner today to learn how we can help you.