When one or both spouses are members of the military, there are special rules and benefits that apply in a divorce. Unlike divorces between non-military spouses, specific rules related to retirement income, health benefits, and child support may affect benefits. Military divorce lawyers in Virginia Beach can explain the impact of these special rules on the divorce.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act oversees divorce issues that affect retirement pay and benefits for military spouses. If certain criteria is met, Virginia courts are allowed to allocate retirement pay benefits in a military divorce. The following rules apply:
* The award must be stated as a percentage of gross retirement pay or as a fixed dollar amount. The award must also be stated as part of the final divorce decree.
* Spouses must be married for at least 10 years, and the military spouse must have at least 10 years of military service that permits retirement pay during the marriage. This is known as the 10/10 rule.
When civilian spouses divorce, individuals are typically no longer covered for health benefits under the former spouse’s health coverage. When military spouses divorce, special rules apply to benefits:
* 20/20/15 Rule – If a couple is married for at least 20 years or more, and the service member performed 20 years or more of military service, and there’s a minimum of a 15-year overlap of marriage and military service, the divorced spouse qualifies for health benefits for one full year after the date of a final divorce decree.
* 20/20/20 Rule – If a couple is married for at least 20 years or more, and the service member performed 20 years or more of military service, and there’s a minimum of a 20-year overlap of marriage and military service, the divorced spouse qualifies for health benefits in addition to commissary and exchange privileges.
Although child support guidelines can vary based on the military service branch, all military parents are required to pay sufficient child support in a divorce. If ordered child support payments are not met, the military can enforce a wage garnishment of the military spouse’s monthly paycheck. If a wage garnishment if ordered, it will remain in effect until a Virginia court terminates child support or modifies the child support order. All branches of the military encourage divorced parents to comply with child support and child custody arrangements stated in the final divorce decree.