While any divorce can involve challenging and stressful circumstances for all parties involved, there are a multitude of unique issues when one spouse is a current or former member of the United States Armed Forces. While the grounds for a military divorce are the same as they are for a civilian divorce, matters involving child support and custody as well as certain benefits can be extremely complicated.
A military divorce filing in Florida requires that one spouse must either reside in Florida or be stationed in the state. Judge Advocate General (JAG) officers can offer some guidance and limited legal assistance, but they cannot represent either party in court or draft court documents.
If you or your spouse is an active or former member of the military and you are preparing for a divorce, you will want to make sure that you have an experienced Florida divorce attorney who will look out for your best interests and protect your rights. Clay B. Adkinson and Clayton J. M. Adkinson have helped members of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy as well as spouses achieve favorable outcomes in their divorce agreements.
Adkinson Law Firm, LLC represents clients in such areas as Destin, South Walton, Milton, Pensacola, Panama City, Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, and DeFuniak Springs. Our divorce attorneys can review your case when you call to schedule a free consultation.
Pensions are typically included among the assets that are subject to equitable distribution in a Florida divorce. However, the way that a military pension is paid to the spouse of a military member is determined by the “Ten Year Rule” (also known as the “20/10/10 Rule”).
The way that military pensions are calculated and divided is determined by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA). If a spouse satisfies the requirements of the Ten Year Rule, then he or she can be eligible to receive military retirement benefits directly through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). In order for a spouse to be paid by DFAS, the following minimums need to be met:
If the marriage does not satisfy these requirements, it does not mean that the spouse is not entitled to retirement benefits. It simply means that any payments will be made by the military member instead of DFAS.
Another important type of benefit under the USFSPA in military divorces is payments in the event of a service member’s death. In order to receive payments following a military member’s death, the spouse will need to be named in a Survivor’s Benefit Plan (SBP).
In order for a former spouse to be named in an SBP, the service member or spouse needs to submit a request to the appropriate service center within one year of the date of the court order for divorce, dissolution or annulment. If a former spouse is named in the SBP, the premium may be paid either by the member of the military, the former spouse, or divided equally by the two parties.
It is important to note that if the service member remarries, SBP benefits cannot be divided between the former spouse and his or her current spouse. Additionally, a former spouse will no longer be eligible for benefits if he or she remarries before the age of 55, although his or her eligibility can be restored if that remarriage ends.
A service member may be ordered by a court to provide SBP coverage as part of a divorce settlement, but the coverage is not automatic. If an SBP plan is not in place, then the former spouse receives no further retirement pay after a military member’s death.
Health care coverage for service member and their families is provided by the United States Department of Defense (DOD) Military Health System’s TRICARE program. The military typically provides health, dental, and vision insurance for members of the military and their children for life so long as the service member has 20 years or more of service.
After a divorce, medical benefits for the former spouse of a service member are determined by the following eligibility standards:
Spouses who do not qualify under either of the rules listed above will lose their military health coverage upon divorce, but they will still have the option of purchasing a DOD Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). This program provides temporary health care coverage with benefits that are similar to those in TRICARE for up to 36 months, but the spouse needs to enroll within 60 days of losing full military health care benefits and pay a premium for participation. These spouses also do not have access to military treatment facilities or pharmacies.
Few issues in a military divorce are as challenging or emotional as custody of a couple’s children. Courts in the state of Florida make these decisions based on what is in the best interests of the minor children. Time-sharing agreements typically need to be worked out during military divorce proceedings.
If a service member is deployed as part of his or her duties, Florida Statute § 61.13002 offers certain protections for this service member’s parenting rights:
Clayton Adkinson and Clay Adkinson have more than 30 years of legal experience. Our DeFuniak Springs family law attorneys help current and former members of the military as well as spouses of service members all over the Florida Panhandle.
Adkinson Law Firm, LLC serves residents of Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Holmes County, Washington County, Bay County, Okaloosa County, and Walton County in divorce cases. You can call our firm at or submit an online form right now to schedule a free legal consultation that will let us review your case and discuss your options.