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Divorce in the military

Alaskan couples who wish to divorce when one spouse is in the military have additional factors to consider along with the normal dissolution procedure. A federal law tells military branches to follow state laws with regard to ordered alimony, child support and retirement pay or pension plans. However, it allows states to consider military retirement pay or pensions as property rather than as income.

In order for an ex-spouse of someone in the military to receive direct payments for their portion of retirement pay from the military, the couple must have been married for 10 years while the military member was also serving for 10 years. Each state differs in how it calculates the date of division, so in one state, a couple may be considered as having been married for 10 years, while another state's calculation may deem them as having been married for nine.

People in the military can sometimes file in the state in which they are stationed, as many states have relaxed rules regarding jurisdictional filing requirements of residence for military personnel. The maximum the military will pay an ex-spouse is 50 percent of monthly retirement benefits, or 65 percent if child support is being taken from military pension payments.

Although the basic divorce procedure for people in the military is the same, the benefits provisions and jurisdictional requirements are an added layer to consider. People who have served in the military or whose spouse has served may wish to speak with a family law attorney regarding how the laws may be applied in their case. An attorney may be able to calculate the expected benefit amounts, if any, that will be paid to the military member's former spouse upon the military person's retirement from their branch of service.

Source:, "Understanding Divorce in the Military", October 29, 2014

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