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Child custody, property division concerns in military divorce

Dallas residents understand that divorce is never easy. Even couples who want to separate amicably sometimes find that there are underlying issues that lead to disputes once they begin to move forward with the process. But in a military divorce, there are unique laws and considerations governing issues like child custody and property division which make this a scenario where specialized legal assistance is more important than ever.

Military benefits, of course, are an important asset that will need to be addressed during property division. Take a military pension, for example: service members who retire with 20 years or more of service may collect this benefit for as long as they continue to live. However, the federal government will only deduct up to half of this payment for direct transfer to the ex-spouse. It's still possible for a spouse to be awarded more than half of a service member's military pension in a divorce settlement, but anything more than 50 percent will have to be paid by the retiree to the ex-spouse him or herself.

That is assuming the marriage lasted 10 years or more. If it didn't, the government won't make any deductions or transfers at all. It will be up to the beneficiary to pay his or her ex directly.

There also tend to be some unique considerations surrounding child custody in a military divorce, although they aren't necessary the letter of the law itself. Given the nature of military service, it's common for one spouse to take care of the children while the military spouse goes on active deployment. When a court sees this scenario in a divorce, it's highly likely that the non-military spouse will be awarded custody of the children. Deployment typically means fewer visitation opportunities as well.

That's not to say that military parents who want to pursue custody don't have the right to do so and a number of legal options available. A legal professional with experience in military divorce can help advise divorcing service members on this issue, division of military benefits and other subjects likely to arise during this time.

Source: Military.com, "Military Divorce: Dividing Children, Pay & Pensions," Rebekah Sanderlin, accessed on Aug. 10, 2014

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