Divorce happens for various reasons, and sometimes it is no one’s fault. You then factor in the stressors of the military, and the grounds for separation grows.
Demographics are a bit more complicated in the military. The military divorce statistics are parsed out according to – years enlisted, years of active duty with high-level combat, and civilian status. Civilian divorce is measured more traditionally based on age, economic status, education, etc. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.
Starting with Stats on Military Divorce
The divorce rate among service people has been pretty stable since 2014, staying between 3% and 3.1%. The overall United States divorce rate is 2.9% but remember that they use different metrics.
A good example of how the military measures divorce rates are that military spouses who are more frequently deployed for longer times see a higher rate for marriage dissolution. Service people who experience combat and weapon use have a higher rate of divorce. For instance, studies show a drastic spike in those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The rate of female troops that go through a divorce is higher than their male counterparts. Those in the Marine Corps encounter divorce at triple the rate as male soldiers – 7% compared to 2.5%.
Divorce is also measured across the different branches of the military. The Air Force and Marine Corp are tied for the highest divorce rate – 3.3%. The Navy has the lowest percentage at 2.8%.
The military is pro-marriage and offers programs to help families. The various benefits include housing allowance, health insurance, assistance with higher education, etc. One of the reasons the divorce rates are stable is because of the supports that the military offers.
Military and Divorce
The divorce procedure in the military is no different than a civilian divorce. However, those in the military or a spouse of someone who is has additional factors to consider.
If a military spouse is on active duty or deployed to a remote area, the process might take longer. Some states take this situation into account and relax their residency requirements for active-duty soldiers stationed overseas.
Military couples have the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). The federal statute is in place as guidance to accept state statutes when dealing with child support, military pension and pay, and alimony. The USFSPA allows states to categorize military retirement as property rather than income.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) handles direct retirement payments. A couple must be married for 10 years that overlap with 10 years of service for an ex-spouse to receive direction retirement payments. A tricky aspect of this rule is that different states have different criteria, such as the date of division. One state might round the years together to 10, while another state might round down to 9 years.
If you are ineligible for DFAS does not mean that you are not eligible for your portion. Military pay and pension are in addition to child and spousal support. It is why obtaining a divorce attorney who knows military procedures is the best policy to achieve a fair divorce settlement.
The max that an ex-spouse can receive in pension income is 50% of the retirement pay. The formula that the military uses must be clear in the document filed with the court. A divorce lawyer who understands military divorces are helpful in this situation. They know the formula used to reach the amount of the payment. Also, it reduces the stress level of a complicated process.
Legal Rights and Benefits
Marriage is work, and it takes communication. It can get hard being separated from your spouse for extended periods of time, and when there is little contact, it gets that much worse. The military has various counseling options, and they help support families face and overcome obstacles.
But everyone has a different threshold. There is no shame in deciding that separating and divorce are better for everyone. The military can help make that easier, too. Counseling is available to reduce the impact of divorce on the entire family.
The various branches have assistance during this stressful time. However, it is also a good idea to find an attorney that specializes in military divorce. It will reduce the stress on you while ensuring everything gets done and is done fairly. Having an outside advocate will alleviate additional anxiety during an already trying time. You can choose to have military legal assistance, but it is ultimately up to you.
Military spouses should be aware of what they are entitled to. The military provides ways to keep up with the benefits available if you are a service person, a spouse, or a veteran. It is best to have all the correct information when you enter divorce proceedings. An experienced lawyer can help guide you through the system and will file accurate documents with the court.