The Jacksonville, Florida law firm of Elrod & Elrod has been serving the needs of Jacksonville, Florida’s military families since 1966.
If you or your spouse are a member of the United States military and are considering divorce, you face some special considerations. You need a Florida divorce lawyer who has experience handling military divorce in Florida, and who can help you protect your assets, your children, and your rights in a military divorce.
Unlike civilian divorces, military divorces are governed by state and federal law. Federal law allows you to choose where you will file for divorce and how pensions will be divided, while Florida law will control questions of spousal support, child support, and child custody.
A court must have jurisdiction over the people who come before it. For civilians, this is usually the place where a person lives. For military personnel, jurisdiction is often the place where a person holds legal residence if the service member is stationed somewhere else.
If you or your spouse are a member of the military, you can choose which court has jurisdiction between:
Regardless of what state law applies, the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act states that active-duty service members cannot be sued or begin divorce proceedings while they are on duty or for 60 days following active duty (at the discretion of the court). This allows active-duty service-men and -women to devote their full attention and energy to defending the nation.
A military pension and Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) are a service member’s most valuable assets. These assets are often divided between spouses during a military divorce according to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA). The USFSPA also authorizes direct payment of a portion of military benefits to the former spouse.
Under the USFSPA’s “10-year rule,” a non-military spouse’s share of military benefits will be paid by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) if there were at least 10 years of marriage that overlapped with 10 years of military service. An overlap occurs when the spouse was married to the service member for at least half of the years that the military-spouse was serving.
In many cases the division of military benefits is negotiable, even if there are fewer than 10 years of overlap between the marriage and a person’s military service. The non-military spouse can ask for half of the pension even if they were married for less time and the service member can ask for a smaller division of the pension even if they were married for longer than 10 years.
Regardless of the length of the marriage, a court may still authorize payment of benefits to a military spouse as an offset, which would be paid by the military member rather than by DFAS.
Spouses of current and former military personnel are also eligible for full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges when:
The military divorce law firm of Elrod & Elrod can also prepare Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) and Qualified Military Orders (QMOs) to divide military retirement accounts, 401(k)s, and IRAs.
We can also structure settlements to address the need to sell the marital home, and who pays the mortgage and expenses.
The military lifestyle often involves frequent moves and long deployments, and military couples often have young children. As a result, the military has adopted special rules regarding child support and child custody.
Child support awards will be determined by Florida law and are based on the service-member’s total entitlements (base pay, Basic Allowance for Housing, Basic Allowance for Subsistence, and any special pays).
When military spouses are frequently deployed, the non-military spouse often takes on a larger share of the childcare burden. This may result in the non-military spouse receiving a larger-than-customary amount of child support.
Frequent deployments can also affect the ability of a service member to get full custody of the children. Florida judges will consider the best interests of the children and may decide that the children are better off living with the parent who is not likely to deploy.
Elrod & Elrod structures parenting plans in military divorces so that deployments are considered, and people serving in the military can still get significant time with minor children. We represent both active and retired military personnel and have the knowledge, experience and resources to get our clients the outcomes they deserve.
If you are a member of the U.S. military and are considering divorce, consult with an experienced Florida military divorce lawyer.
Elrod & Elrod has the experience and expertise to guide you through your military divorce so that you get what you need and what you deserve.