Military Divorce is a general term used for a divorcing couple where at least one of the spouses is in the military, whether active duty, reserves, guard or retired.  A Military Divorce can present some unique issues through which to navigate.  As a former military JAG Officer (Judge Advocate General), I’ve observed how many of these unique issues can unfold.  Now, practicing family law in the Northland (Northern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin), I find it rewarding that I can help individuals in a Military Divorce navigate through their particular divorce, whether they’re the military spouse or the non-military spouse.  I’d be glad to assist you, if you’re reading this and going through a divorce.


Custody issues in a Military Divorce can be one of the thorniest problems.  A heavy factor in consideration of custody can be the matter of deployments.  Are you getting divorced at a time when a spouse has been frequently sent on deployments? While society might honor and appreciate the sacrifice of service, it often comes at a price in a custody proceeding.  The Court may naturally lean toward the non-military spouse who is firmly rooted in the children’s community.  They may consider this an important point in the children’s best interest. Having someone who understands this to represent your position in Court can be important.


Military retirements are paid by DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service).  The military pension has some different nuances than civilian pensions.  DFAS will only provide direct payments to an ex-spouse if that spouse was married at least 10 years of which also the other spouse was serving in the military.  If not, the ex-spouse will have to count on the military spouse to pay them directly.   Given this fact, in some divorces couples will negotiate a higher division of marital assets immediately upon divorce to the ex-spouse so as not to be at the jeopardy of the other spouse’s good faith payments.

Division of a military pension in a divorce can be calculated using several different combinations of methods.  As it can be crucial how these are applied, a spouse in a Military Divorce should be careful in this area.  First, there is a calculation on how much military service time for a spouse was during the marriage and how much was prior to marriage or after divorce.  Here, it’s either by time based on years or fractions of years or points which tallies the amount of time a soldier drills.

The next step is to either attempt a net present value calculation for situations where one spouse wants to buy out the other.  Often, there is just a calculation of a percentage of the overall retirement and the actual value is determined on the service member’s retirement.  Reservists are unique from Active Duty in regardless of when they retire they don’t start to collect their pension until age 60 generally.

Also tied to a Military Divorce are additional benefits such as a Post Commissary (Exchange/Base Store) or TRICARE (medical).  Both of these benefits, and some others, are tied to length of service, length of marriage, and the overlap of the two.

Contact us or call our office at 218-722-5809 today if you need help with your Military Divorce.

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