Dissolving a marriage is almost never an enjoyable process, but when one or both of the parties are in the military, the process has different and unique considerations. Here are two important questions to consider if you are thinking of getting a divorce.

How Long Have You Been Married?

In order to collect on your former spouse's military retirement benefits via the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, you must have been married for at least 10 years, and that 10 years must have been concurrent with military service. However, even if you have been married less than 10 years, a share of your spouse's military retirement benefits can still be argued for and be a part of the final divorce agreement—you just wouldn't receive those payments directly from the military and would receive them from your ex-spouse instead.

If you have been married 20 years or longer and your spouse was in the military for that entire 20 years, you would be eligible for base privileges and continuing health insurance under Tricare. Base privileges, such as being able to shop at the commissary, and Tricare insurance would only continue if you didn't remarry, however.

Like most things pertaining to the government, military benefits and what an ex-spouse is entitled to can vary. Active versus reserve status can also make a difference. State laws may come into play as well. If you are nearing either the 10-year or 20-year anniversary but haven't yet reached it, it may be advantageous to delay divorce proceedings until you reach the milestone.

Which State Is The Military Member A Legal Resident?

While spouses usually reside in the same state, things can get tricky when one or both parties is a member of the military. For many military service members, they often view their state of enlistment as their permanent residence. This is usually the place they plan on returning to when their enlistment period is up, or they retire. The military views the state they enlisted as their home of record, which can be different than a legal residence. 

This doesn't mean their spouse has the same state, however. Even if they married in the same state, if a non-military spouse gets a driver's license in a different state when they are stationed there, they may legally be a resident of the new state. The military will use the service member's state laws for things like dividing their retirement benefits. If both people are in the military, this can get even more complicated. For these reasons, you should always consult an experienced military divorce lawyer before you file for divorce. You want to make sure you are protected.

For more information, you will want to contact a professional such as Karen Robins Carnegie PLC.