I receive many, many emails and comments from military member and military spouses who are going through a divorce. As I’ve said before, this is tricky stuff and you can’t afford to get it wrong.
Today, I found an excellent resource that focuses on many misconceptions and misunderstandings about the legal issues that come up in military divorces. I particularly like the way that it does not focus exclusively on the rights of either party, but rather presents the important information that both parties need to know. (I think it is still a little biased towards the spouse over the service member, but it is the most balanced “fact sheet” I’ve found yet.)
Prepared by the North Carolina State Bar Association, Fact or “Whacked”? Myths and Mistakes in Military Divorces discusses the importance of proper consideration of issues regarding pensions, Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage, disability benefits, domicile issues and where to file, and other topics. It also provides some resources for further information.
In addition to this particular document, the North Carolina State Bar Association maintains an entire website called Legal Assistance for Military Personnel. It includes handouts and information on nearly every subject I can imagine pertaining to military service and how it impacts the law. It is one of my first stops for questions of law and the military. You might take a few minutes just to become familiar with what it offers. While it is written from the perspective of North Carolina law, much of the information contained is applicable to the rest of the country, as well, or will at least help you know where to start your research.
In my opinion, the most important thing about a military divorce is ensuring that both parties have a full understanding of the special factors that are unique to military divorces. If both parties are not fully aware of the situation, then the outcome of the divorce settlement will likely be skewed towards the party with more information. I don’t think that is right, and I’d like to see it stop happening. No one should come out of a divorce feeling like they’ve been treated unfairly by the settlement process or results.