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Is property division different in a military divorce?

Divorce can be a complicated affair for any couple. Transitioning from shared to separate households can be nothing short of a financial upheaval.

In order to fairly divide the marital estate, a couple will have to take inventory of their assets and debts. The marital estate typically includes real and personal property, securities and retirement accounts, and any other assets acquired during the marriage. In addition, the burden of any debts acquired during the marriage may also be a joint responsibility, even if one spouse didn’t approve or participate in that liability. 

If those property division tasks weren’t enough, there will also be extra considerations if one spouse is a service member. Although retirement benefits might be a contentious issue in any divorce, the division of military benefits implicates federal law. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Action, or USFSPA, a military pension is regarded as marital property. However, factors such as the length of the marriage may affect the former spouse’s entitlement to military retirement.

Of course, other retirement benefits may be more straightforward. To the extent that a military spouse has an individual retirement account or other forms of non-military securities, these are generally divided according to state, rather than federal laws. 

Spousal support might also be awarded in a military divorce. Factors like each spouse’s income and the accustomed standard of living might be considered. However, for couples that were living in military family housing, the cost of securing new accommodations will pose a new cost. That gives a whole new dimension to the financial implications of divorce. 

Source:, “Military Divorce and Separation”

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