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3 considerations of a military wife during a divorce

You stood faithfully by your spouse's side as he served in the military. Now, you find out that he filed for divorce. Whether this comes as a shock or was something you expected, there are some very important things for you to consider as you move through the divorce process.

The length of the marriage and length of the military service

The 20/20/20 rule is one that is important in many military divorces because it provides spouses of military members with benefits if the marriage meets specific requirements. There are three requirements for this rule:

  • Your ex's time in the military must be at least 20 years
  • Your marriage must have lasted at least 20 years
  • At least 20 years of your marriage must overlap with at least 20 years of service

If your situation meets these three requirements, you are likely entitled to specific benefits as long as you don't remarry. These benefits include access to TRICARE, commissary and a military identification card. It also gives you a share of the military retirement or pension if your ex qualifies for either one.

In some cases, it's possible to have the health insurance benefit under the 20/20/15 rule, which requires only 15 years of marriage to overlap with 15 years of military service. This only applies for one year after the divorce instead of until you remarry, as is the case under the 20/20/20 rule.

Child custody matters take extra work

If you and your ex have children who are still minors, the child custody agreement will take some extra work. There is a good chance that your ex will be deployed or have to change duty stations. This mustn't stop your ex from seeing the children. Instead, you should work out a flexible child custody agreement so that your ex can remain in contact with them.

Virtual visitation is one option that you have in these circumstances because it enables your ex to interact with the children through video chats, text messages, emails and methods using the latest technologies. Additionally, the child custody agreement can include physical visitation for members of your ex's family, such as his parents or siblings, so that the children can still have contact and meaningful interactions with that side of their family.

Payments go through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service

Child support payments, as well as alimony payments if ordered, are paid to you through direct debit of your ex's paychecks. This is done through the DFAS at the duty station where your ex is stationed. Once the order is entered, it continues until it is expired or until the issuing court submits a modification or cancellation of the order.

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Hecht Family Law
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