Military Divorces and Child Visitation?
Divorce Lawyer in Bloomington IL
There is life, and then there is military life. While most military families go out of their way to maintain a “normal” lifestyle, some pieces cannot be altered. This is particularly the case for the legal sector of military life. Divorce itself is difficult enough, but service members go through a much lengthier and more public process. If the couple has children, child custody becomes increasingly more challenging as well. At Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols, we understand this.
Military Moves and Custody
It is common knowledge that home is where the military sends you when you are a service member. They give you several “options” and even let you “request” duty stations, but many times that is not guaranteed, and you go wherever the need is Sudden moves are disruptive to any child custody or visitation plans set in place. Military life can directly influence the decision of the court for custody hearings as well.
Potential Custody and Visitation Arrangements
Each situation is different when it comes to child custody and visitation arrangements in Bloomington IL. However, these are a few of the methods that have worked for military members in the past who have been stationed apart from their children:
- Monthly rotations
- Annual rotations
- Summer and holiday sharing
Healthcare benefits are not guaranteed to all divorcing spouses. Unless you meet the strict specification standards, healthcare benefits end after a transitional period. These qualifiers are:
- If you have been married for at least 20 years, the spouse has at least 20 years of creditable service, and the two overlap for 20 years, then you are what is known as a 20/20/20 spouse and are eligible for all benefits, from TriCare to the use of the commissary and the exchange.
- If you have been married for 20 years, the spouse has 20 years, but they only overlap for 15 years, then you are a 20/20/15 spouse, then the benefits are available for a year after the divorce.
Under no circumstances are military retirement benefits automatically given to a former spouse. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) does break down the regulations for this. If the marriage lasted for ten years and that has overlapped at least ten years of creditable military service, then the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will directly deposit the former spouse’s retirement benefits. For these qualifiers, this is up to and including 50 percent of the retirement benefits. That is not to say that an unqualified divorcing spouse is ineligible for any compensation of retirement pay; the amount is determined during the divorce proceedings.
The USFSPA also gives the right to each state to divide the pension plan, including for qualifying couples. Therefore, family courts have the authority to:
- Treat the retirement plan like property, rather than income
- Divide the pension, regardless of the length of the marriage
Contact a Divorce Lawyer for Assistance
If you are the service member or you are divorcing a service member, it is likely that you have questions about how it will affect the rest of your life. From mandatory Permanent Change of Stations to child support and alimony, what are your rights and responsibilities? At Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols, we know that these issues can be very confusing. Contact an experienced military divorce lawyer in Bloomington IL from our firm today to find out how we may be able to help.