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2 differences between military divorce and civilian divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2024 | Military Divorce

Divorce generally inspires emotional upheaval, financial adjustments and changes in family dynamics. These impacts are felt by all parties to divorce, whether they are serving military personnel or civilians.

When one or both spouses are in the military, the process of divorce can involve several unique concerns when compared to civilian divorce proceedings.

The process might take longer

If you are divorcing a service member, you may encounter unique challenges due to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This federal law provides certain protections to active-duty military personnel, which can affect the divorce process. One significant aspect of the SCRA is its provision for stays of legal proceedings, allowing service members to request delays in court hearings if their military duties interfere. Consequently, the divorce process may be prolonged as court appearances and negotiations must accommodate the service member’s military obligations.

The 20-year overlap benefits

While civilian divorces also take the length of marriage into consideration, military divorces involve a unique aspect known as the “20-year overlap benefits.” This refers to the eligibility of former spouses for certain military benefits if the marriage lasted at least 20 years during which the service member served at least 20 years of creditable military service. This provision allows former spouses to retain certain military benefits including access to healthcare through TRICARE, the military’s health insurance program as long as they do not remarry.

Unlike in civilian divorces where healthcare coverage may be negotiated separately, TRICARE benefits for former spouses can be a significant consideration in military divorces especially for those who have been married for an extended period and rely on military healthcare for themselves and their dependents.

If you are considering divorce with a military spouse, it’s essential to understand the unique aspects of military divorce and how they may impact the process and outcomes for both parties involved. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.