Whenever a member of the armed forces or his or her spouse is getting divorced, a special set of federal laws must immediately be considered. These include for example, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The USFSPA permits a state to treat military disposable retired pay as marital property, thus dividing it between the spouses in a divorce action. Disposable military retired pay consists of a servicemembers’ monthly retired pay minus qualified deductions. The Act also addresses survivor benefits in the event of a military retiree’s death. The USFSPA permits former spouses to continue receiving commissary, exchange and health care benefits after a divorce in certain cases.
The SCRA protects military members from falling into default on a divorce case while they are in active duty. It may also protect them against such obligations as outstanding credit card debt, mortgage payments, taxes and lease charges while they are serving in active duty.
In divorce cases involving military members, special procedures apply to retirement payments and to housing allowances. It is important to understand the function of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), and how deductions are made from military paychecks. Another important consideration involves life insurance which may be available through the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program or other programs.
Be sure to contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick for assistance with your military divorce.