Filing For Military Divorce

February 16, 2022

 Military Divorce

Going through a divorce can be stressful and complicated, regardless of what each spouse does for a living. However, filing for military divorce involves a unique set of circumstances that do not need to be accounted for in divorces between two civilian spouses. The team of dedicated Colorado divorce attorneys at Johnson Law Group has experience representing veterans and military spouses in divorce cases across the state. If you have questions regarding a military divorce in Colorado, we can provide answers. Call us today at (720) 463-4333 or text us at (720) 730-4558 to learn more about how our attorneys can stand by you during your divorce.

Military Divorce vs. Civilian Divorce

The divorce process for military and civilian couples is the same for certain matters. However, military families may have additional financial implications to consider during the divorce process. For example, the military spouse’s pension and retirement benefits may be evaluated by the family court as a divisible asset.

Residency is also often more complicated in military divorce cases. Many military members are stationed in a different state from the one in which they are legal residents. Because state laws can have a significant impact on the outcome of a divorce, this can lead to further complications. Many military members and spouses going through a divorce seek legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney in their state, who can help navigate the unique complexities of a military divorce.

Unique Financial Considerations in a Military Divorce

Civilian and military retirement benefits are both considered by family courts during the divorce process. When considering how military benefits will be divided, the court may consider federal and state laws, along with the specific circumstances of the family going through the divorce. The Colorado divorce attorneys of the Johnson Law Group help their clients understand the unique financial implications associated with a military divorce.

USFS Protection Act

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act (USFSPA) was instituted in 1982 as a way to provide former military spouses with a share of their spouse’s military retirement benefits. While this is a federal law, it applies differently depending on the state in which the divorce has been filed. In Colorado, military retirement payments are deemed “marital assets”, which means they are subject to equitable division during divorce proceedings.

In many divorce proceedings, these benefits may be one of the most valuable assets in the divorce. According to Section 641 of the National Defense Authorization Act, a former military spouse’s portion of a military pension will be frozen at its current value when a divorce is filed. Thus, future increases in the pension amount due to promotions of service extensions will not be considered when dividing the pension during the divorce.

The 10/10 Rule

Former military spouses are entitled to a portion of their spouse’s military retirement pay under the 10/10 rule. According to this rule, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will make direct court-ordered payments in military divorces. In order to qualify, the marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years with the military member of the couple serving for at least 10 years.

The former spouse of the military veteran will receive their payments directly from the military, rather than relying on their spouse to make the payments. The funds the spouse can receive are limited to the money that was earned during the marriage and cannot exceed 50 percent of the military member’s disposable retirement payments. The following categories are excluded:

  • Forfeitures ordered by a court-martial
  • Overpaid money to the government
  • Payments that have been waived to allow the military member to receive Veterans Affairs disability benefits
  • Premiums for a survivor benefit plan that are already being paid to the former military spouse

The Hunt/Gallo Formula

The Hunt/Gallo Formula is used to calculate the portion of a retirement pension a former military spouse is entitled to following a divorce. A family court will calculate this by dividing the number of months of military service that happened during the marriage by the total months the military member's spouse served. The former spouse will receive half of the marital portion of the service member’s retirement pay as calculated by the Hunt/Gallo Formula.

In What State Should You File a Military Divorce?

Family courts will make a ruling on whether they have subject matter jurisdiction before deciding whether the court can hear a divorce case. Filing for military divorce in Colorado is possible if at least one of the spouses has been a Colorado resident for a minimum of 90 days before filing the divorce. In order for a military service member to be considered a resident of Colorado, their Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) must list Colorado as their legal residence. The military member must also have a Colorado driver’s license or another proof of residence, such as a voter registration document or proof that they own property within the state.

Military spouses in Colorado must have a Colorado driver’s license and be physically located in the state in order to qualify as residents. Military members and spouses can both seek residency in Colorado with the intention of filing a divorce there, but they must make their residency official at least 90 days before they file the paperwork.

Legal Counsel for Military Divorces in Colorado

The divorce process is rarely easy, even when both spouses are on good terms and the agreement is relatively amicable. Most divorces involve a uniquely complex set of circumstances that must be accounted for, and this is doubly true for military divorces. The legal aspects of filing a divorce can be difficult to navigate for individuals who do not have a detailed understanding of how the process works. This is why many people who are going through a military divorce consider seeking legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney.

If you have questions about filing for military divorce, the team of seasoned Colorado divorce attorneys at the Johnson Law Group is prepared to help guide you through the process. We understand how federal, state, and military laws can influence your case. Our team is prepared to help construct a strong legal game plan tailored to your personal needs. For more information about filing for a military divorce in Colorado, contact the Johnson Law Group today at (720) 463-4333.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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