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In more ways than one, the lives of the men and women who serve in the American military are a lot different from the lives of civilians. They stay away from home for extended periods of time and perform their duties in harsh conditions in various corners of the world, often facing unimaginable risks.

Owing to the unique nature of their professional and personal lives, legal matters in military families need special treatment. As many people in Savannah, Georgia, may know, there are certain federal laws that specifically address military family laws matters. One such law is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, a federal law that provides certain benefits for divorced spouses of military members.

According to the USFSPA, former military spouses may be entitled to a part of the pay that the military member receives on retirement, benefits related to medical care, and exchange and commissary benefits. Some of the most notable points related to the USFSPA can be summarized as follows:

  • The USFSPA allows state courts to allocate a portion of a military member’s disposable retirement pay to a former spouse at the time of property division. In some circumstances, the former spouse may also be able to receive that money directly through government disbursement.
  • The Act allows former military spouses to access healthcare at medical facilities that are meant for the armed forces, and it also grants access to military commissaries and exchanges. In addition, the USFSPA grants certain special benefits to victims of spousal abuse or child abuse.

It is important to note that although the USFSPA allows the allocation of a portion of a military member’s retirement pay to a former spouse, it is not mandatory for state courts to follow this provision. In other words, while the act allows such allocation, it does not mention any of the following:

  • Dictate a percentage of disposable retirement pay that would be allocated to a former spouse
  • Establish formula determine the portion of retirement pay to be allocated to a former spouse

Interestingly, the USFSPA does not place a ceiling on the percentage of a military member’s disposable retirement pay that may be awarded to a former spouse. In addition, the act also does not require an overlap of military service and marriage in order to obtain the benefits mentioned earlier.

As can be seen here, financial issues in a military divorce can be unique. Therefore, in order to make sure that the divorce process is completed smoothly, while maintaining the interests of both the separating spouses, it may be wise to seek guidance from an attorney who is experienced in military family law.