According to the most recent data released by the Pentagon, about 21,290 of 689,060 married troops divorced during the military’s 2017 fiscal year. That means on average, about 3 or 3.1 percent of enlisted troops divorce. But, divorce rates among female troops are much higher than men. And divorce rates for both male and female Marines are higher than in other branches of the military.
How does this compare with the national average? It’s challenging to tell exactly. The government measures the military divorce rate in a different way than the U.S. national divorce rate. In the military, the divorce rate is calculated by comparing the number of married troops listed in the Pentagon’s personnel system with the number of troops who report divorces over the year. In the United States, the divorce rate is calculated per 1,000 residents and does not factor in six states, including California. Overall, the U.S. divorce rate 3.2 percent–just about the same as the military divorce rate.
Common Issues in a Military Divorce
While the military divorce rate and the U.S. divorce rate for civilians are nearly identical, many other things set military divorces apart:
Filing for Military Divorce
All divorce actions require that the military status of the respondent be documented in compliance with a federal law called the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA protects active duty military members from civil lawsuits so that they can properly focus on serving our country. Under the SCRA, divorce proceedings can be paused temporarily (“stayed”) for as long as the military member is on active duty plus 60 days. This does not mean that the divorce cannot proceed in all cases, however. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer.
Texas courts usually make child support calculations according to state law, but things can become complicated when one parent is deployed overseas. And interim child support payments are a factor while the divorce is proceeding. Each military branch has its own regulations for determining the amount paid in interim child support payments. Typically, the amount is based on a formula that accounts for a service member’s gross pay and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
Child custody determinations are uniquely complicated when one parent is deployed. Courts make an effort to protect the best interests of the child, even when one parent cannot be with the child due to active military service.
Military retirement benefits are often a source of dispute in military divorces. State and federal laws protect both spouses’ access to military retirement benefits upon divorce. A federal law called the Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) directs states to treat military pensions as property, dividing them according to the state’s laws on property division in a divorce.
Get a Lawyer’s Help With Military Divorce
If you or your spouse are in the military, work with a divorce lawyer who is familiar with military divorces. Start by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125.