Going through a divorce is difficult for anyone, but military personnel and their families have specific issues. One of them is a military pension and other benefits.
Colorado law generally considers all pensions and benefits to be a divisible asset, which is to say it is to be shared. But there are very specific requirements in the case of military pensions which require a divorce attorney with experience.
Meeting the standards
Unlike so many aspects of the military, divorce is covered by state laws first. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) defers to Colorado law for any divorce filed here. That means that a military pension can be divided up, like any other property, when a service member is divorcing.
Other benefits are more restricted, however. Medical and commissary benefits only can be transferred if the marriage meets what is called the “20/20/20 Rule.’ That is:
- The marriage lasted 20 years or longer
- There was 20 years of service
- There were 20 years of service while married
This is a very strict standard, but if it is met the full benefits of service are available to the divorcing partner of the service member.
Specific rights as a service member
The legal rights of any service member are protected when on active duty. The law is there for you to focus on your job no matter what is happening at home. In the case of divorce, this means that you are granted a stay in your divorce proceedings and are protected against judgments for not responding to the court.
Any service member is also entitled to legal advice, but there are restrictions. The attorneys provided by your service branch cannot represent you in court, among other things.
Because of these and many other considerations, divorce in a service family requires a lot of special consideration and experience. If you or your divorcing partner have clear residency in Colorado and are proceeding with a divorce here it is vital that you have the best representation possible.
This is especially true if you are stationed away at the time. A good attorney on the ground can keep you focused on your duty and make the whole process much easier.