All of these struggles can take a toll on military marriages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of divorce for civilians was 3.4 percent in 2010. The Department of Defense reports that from 2001 to 2010, the divorce rate for active military members rose from 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent, above the national average. The rise in military divorce coincides with the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom.
While the military does have programs to help enlisted men and women in marriage, and the divorce rate has leveled off in recent years, military divorce is still a common occurrence. While military divorce isn’t necessarily more complicated than a civilian divorce, it does have its own unique aspects and should be handled by an attorney experienced in the nuances of military divorce.
Issues like eligibility for military retirement pay and health care benefits are common questions for enlisted men and women and their spouses who are divorcing. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act allows a state to treat military retirement pay as marital property. This means that retirement pay can be divided in a way a court deems is equitable.
Another issue involving military divorce is that it may begin while the servicemember is overseas. While this can create worry on the part of the servicemember that he or she will not be able to protect his or her rights in court, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act can protect soldiers and sailors from civil obligation, which includes divorce proceedings and paternity suits. The SCRA also may protect a servicemember from outstanding credit card debt, pending trials and lease terminations.
An Attorney Can Help
Other family law matters also affect servicemen and women. Adoption, post-divorce relocation and domestic violence all affect military families. If you are an active duty or retired member of the armed services, contact an experienced family law attorney who can discuss your case.