Military life can be extremely demanding and can often put a tremendous strain on a couple’s relationship. This can be especially true in situations where the service member’s unit is deployed and the family is forced to be apart for months or even years at a time. Military families face unique challenges that most of us as civilians never have to deal with. There are unusual hours for training and extended field exercises. Sadly, there are times when the pressure is more than the relationship can bear.
Whether you are the service member or the spouse, the one seeking the divorce or the one who has been served, we have the experience and the understanding to help you through this most difficult time.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly known as the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SCCRA), was enacted in 2003 and significantly expanded the protections provided to people entering the military, called to active duty and deployed servicemembers. Many of the provisions in the SCRA can be applied to protect the rights of servicemembers who are going through a divorce.
The SCRA and Your Illinois Divorce
Among the key provisions the SCRA provides to servicemembers going through a divorce are the following:
Vacation of setting aside of default judgments: In the context of a family law matter, if a default judgment was entered against you and the outcome negatively affected you because you were not present to defend yourself in the action, the court has the authority to reopen the matter.
Stay of legal proceedings: If you are deployed and cannot be present for the proceedings to defend yourself, they can be postponed, or stayed, until you return. This can be especially important when issues like custody need to be resolved.
10/10 Rule in Military Property Division
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) is a law that was passed in 1982 that gave state courts the authority to handle military pensions and other retirement pay as marital property. As such, the law made it possible for servicemembers’ retirement pay to be divided between the spouses.
An important part of the USFSPA is the 10/10 rule. Many people mistakenly believe that this rule limits the non-servicemember spouse’s ability to seek a share of the retirement pay unless the marriage had lasted for 10 or more years and the servicemember has put in at least 10 years of qualifying military service. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The 10/10 rule in military property division cases simply provides options for the non-servicemember spouse with regard to where he or she receives payments from. If the couple was married for at least 10 years and the servicemember put in at least 10 years of qualifying military service, the non-servicemember spouse has the option of receiving his or her payments directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).
Under the USFSPA, former spouses may also continue to receive health care benefits after a divorce if they meet the 20/20/20 requirement–they must prove that the marriage lasted at least 20 years, that the service member served at least 20 years in the military and the years of service were during the time of the marriage.
Survivor Benefit Plans Go Into Effect After Military Retirement Pay Ends
The non-military spouse should inform the military spouse of their interest in the SBP. The SBP is an annuity that provides financial security for dependents when the service member dies–at which point retired pay stops. In additional to a widow or widower, beneficiaries can include surviving dependent children and former spouses.
Per the 10/10 rule, a service member’s retirement or pay can be divided and distributed during military divorce proceedings if the parties have been married 10 years or longer and if the service member performed 10 years of military service during that time.
Service benefit plans and military retired pay are both important and essential elements to consider in a military divorce. If you are concerned about your rights after divorce, we would be honored to serve you.
Arlington Heights Family Care Plans Attorney
Child custody rights after divorce are frequently near and dear to the hearts of military families. Child custody orders are approved by state court judges in divorce, legal separation and paternity cases. Family Care Plans can be helpful in designating already established custody rights. They cannot grant rights to those who have not established their rights, nor can they take away rights. Whether you are the service member or the other party, we can help you with a Family Care Plan as well as child custody issues.
If You Are on Active Duty, You Need a Family Care Plan
The Department of Defense (DOD) requires that all single service members and dual-service couples have a Family Care Plan. The plan specifically outlines child custody arrangements in the service member’s absence. We can help you understand Family Care Plans and answer any questions you may have. It is important to remember that Family Care Plans do not take rights from the other party–they simply exercise the soldier’s rights while they are on active duty. This is why service members should obtain a custody order to fully protect their rights.
Contact A Buffalo Grove Military Divorce Attorney
If you are involved in a military divorce, or if you have questions or concerns regarding a survivor benefit plan, contact us online or by phone to schedule a consultation. Whether you are the service member or the non-service member, you likely have many questions about how pay will be divided, when you will receive it, and how it will be factored into your divorce settlement.
List Of United States Military Bases In Illinois
- Scott Air Force Base, Belleville, Illinois
- Camp Baker, Springfield, Illinois
- Fort Dearborn, Chicago
- Fort Defiance, Cairo, Illinois
- Fort Massac, Metropolis, Illinois
- Fort Sheridan, Highwood, Illinois
- Green River Ordnance Plant
- Haley Army Airfield
- Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, Joliet, Illinois
- Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois
- Savanna Army Depot, Savanna, Illinois
- Project Nike, 20 plus sites, near Chicago and Metro-East
- Arlington Naval Outer Landing Field, Arlington, Illinois
- Libertyville Naval Outer Landing Field, Libertyville, Illinois
- Naval Station Great Lakes, North Chicago, Illinois