What is it? 

A Military Divorce is used to describe a divorce in which one spouse at least is serving in the military or is a retired service member. By and large it is more a description which signifies that this is a divorce involving a service member and carries no special legal sanction.

Common Difficulties

Military divorces proceed along the same lines as a civilian divorce and like a civilian divorce generally go through the appropriate court of law. Military authorities invariably keep out of a civilian court’s decisions and never attempt to influence or interfere with them. The military might however ask for special adjustments for its service members.

A classic example is a request for relaxation of residency requirements to enable a serviceman to file for divorce in the place where he/she is stationed rather than the permanent address of the couple or the place where the spouse lives. Sometimes too it becomes difficult to serve notices and other legal documents to a military person on duty overseas. If the person is serving overseas the acceptance of legal documents might not be required or indeed possible.

Key Similarities

Military couples must be conversant with the Uniform Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). Under USFSPA military personnel are subject to state statutes on issues like spousal support, child support, and military retirement pay and pension. While states view retirement and pension plans as a marital asset, under USFSPA states are at liberty to treat retired military pay as property rather than income.

A Decade

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is the department which handles direct retirement payments. For the DFAS to make direct retirement payment to an ex-spouse the condition is that the couple should have been married for at least 10 years during which the military member should have been in military service.

With that said, this verifies that someone in the military must honor their personal responsibilities. If this becomes a major issue, this can affect a military member’s service record if these trying times affect their work and productivity. If you think that just because you are in the military that that invisible wall will keep this stuff from penetrating that wall then you are mistaken.

However if a couple does not qualify for DFAS direct pay this does not suggest that the spouse is not eligible to even a part of the payment. To receive a part of the payment the award would have to be included in the settlement agreement. An award of retired military pay is separate from, and in addition to alimony or maintenance, and child support.


The DFAS will not pay more than 50% of military retirement pay to an ex-spouse. If child support is deducted and paid from pension then the maximum combined amount deductible will not exceed 65% of disposable retirement pay.

If you are contemplating a military divorce you should hire a divorce attorney conversant with military divorce laws. A number of misconceptions revolve around a military divorce particularly with regard to alimony. An experienced divorce attorney will set your mind at rest on the various issues and be able to navigate the voluminous amount of paperwork involved.

Knowing the Law

CJ Lee and Associates is a family law firm with special expertise in divorce and related issues in both civilian and military divorce. The attorneys at this firm are totally conversant with military divorce rules and procedures and how they mesh with state divorce laws.

Should You Make Your Divorce Official? Here Are Dangers of Not Doing it


You’ve probably heard of someone who’s been separated for years from their spouse, yet neither party has bothered to make the divorce official. While it can seem normal, it can end up with costly consequences such as losing a significant portion of assets built up over the years or one party may end up paying maintenance.

Without a formal legal agreement that sets the terms for your separation, you may be in a disaster before you even know it. Here are some reasons why you should be worried about a long-term separation.

You have no control over how your spouse manages marital assets

If you’ve lived separately for some years, you may not know what your spouse is selling, buying, investing or earning. Suppose your spouse gets into debt, you’ll also get into debt especially if he/she using joint credit cards.

Your spouse may use this chance to hide assets from you

While you may see no urgency in filing for a divorce, your spouse could take advantage of this to make certain assets unavailable. When you finally discover what they’ve been up to when you decide to divorce, you’ll be in for a rude shock.

Alimony laws could change

Alimony laws change from time to time. The more you delay, the higher the likelihood of laws changing in your state.

Your spouse could move to another state/country

Most states have severe limitations on the amount and the duration of alimony the judge can award. During your separation, your spouse can move to another state with these set limitations. This could make the divorce
process more complicated.

Despite having been separated for years from your spouse, the law still sees this as a marriage. If your career blossoms while your spouse struggles to make ends meet, the court has the right to award assets and support in spite of the long-term separation. If you would like to file for divorce, it’s important to consult a denver divorce attorney who will guide you through the steps you need to take.






Divorce Planning

As you are planning your first visit with your divorce attorney, it is a good idea to do some divorce planning.   We are committed to representing your interests.  To do so adequately, we ask that you gather together the following documents and bring them with you to our first meeting.

Court Documents

If a divorce has already been initiated, do not despair.  Divorce planning can still take place.  If either you or your spouse filed an order for protection, please bring a copy of that order – and the temporary order.  In cases where your spouse has filed for divorce, please bring copies of the papers served on you.  Perhaps you originally filed for a divorce on your own behalf.  Many people quickly realize the benefits of having an experienced divorce attorney represent you.  Please bring the paperwork you filed in court.

In cases where you or your spouse is subject to a previous court order regarding child support or alimony, please bring a copy of the court order to the meeting.

Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements

Any written agreement with your spouse, either before or after the marriage, addressing the division of property, child custody arrangements, or other matters pertaining to a potential separation, may be legally binding on the parties.  Please bring those documents.  If amended, it is helpful to have copies of all versions of the documents.

Documentation to Support a Request for Child Support or Alimony

If you have children and want to request child support we (and later, the court) will require documentation of income for both you and your spouse.  In addition, this documentation is necessary if you intend to request support.  This documentation should include the following:

  • Individual tax returns;
  • Business tax returns;
  • W-2s;
  • 1099s;
  • Recent pay stubs;
  • Bank statements that reflect income and expenses.

Additionally, a family budget reflecting regular expenses or particular needs of any family members is helpful.

Divorce planning sometimes requires some detective work.  Does your spouse work for cash?  Do they work as a bartender or waitress?  Perhaps your spouse performs side jobs for friends and family.  In that case, we may require additional information.  Does your spouse traditionally deposit this cash into a savings account? Use it to pay for entertainment?  Knowing where the money goes can assist in determining the actual amount your spouse is earning.

A List of Marital and Non-Marital Assets

“Assets” are defined as any property that has value.  Couples vary in their assets.  They include the family home, as well as vacation homes.  Boats, ATV’s and motorcycles are assets.  Smaller things, such as your cookware, your furniture, and your linens are also assets.  Power tools are assets that can have very high value.  Power tools, in particular are an often-overlooked asset by a spouse that doesn’t routinely use power tools.  Detailed divorce planning requires a careful evaluation of the contents of the home and garage.  Finally, do not overlook your savings accounts, stocks, and bonds.

Assets can be either marital or non-marital property.  Typically, marital property refers to all property acquired by the couple during the marriage.  Of course, there can be exceptions to this, which we will discuss below.  Marital property is subject to division, either by agreement, or by order of the court.

“Non-marital property” is a legal term that can refer to property obtained a few different ways.  For example, property that one party owned prior to the marriage may be considered non-marital property.  Additionally, if one spouse inherits property or receives a gift that the gift-er intended for the individual and not the couple, this can be non-marital property.  This is true even if the gift was received during the marriage.

However, this is not the end of the analysis.  You should not presume that just because one spouse owned some property prior to the marriage that it will always legally be non-marital property.  Similarly, depending on how the inheritance is handled, it may become marital property.  We can assist you in determining whether property is marital or non-marital, based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, consistent with the laws in the state of Maryland.

A List of All Debts

Make a list of all debts both you and your spouse have.  It is important that the list be complete.  A complete list should include debts in either your name or your spouse’s name, as well as debts in both your names.

Documentation of All Retirement Accounts

If you or your spouse will receive a pension from a current or past job, you should obtain the details of that pension.  Don’t forget about military pensions.  In addition, retirement accounts may include any or all of the following:

  • 401(k);
  • 403(b);
  • IRAs;
  • SEP IRAs;
  • Roth IRAs;
  • Health Savings Accounts; and
  • Deferred Compensation accounts.

Information Regarding Your Children

If you have children, provide your attorney with information about them up front.  Your attorney will require vital statistics about the children.  This includes full name, date of birth, and their Social Security Numbers.  If your child has special needs, bring documentation of this.  If an adult child under the age of 26, is currently receiving health insurance through one of the parents, include them on the list.

Information About Potential Hidden Assets

On occasion, a party to a divorce may attempt to hide some of their assets from their spouse.  If you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets, a detailed explanation of your reasons for your suspicions will assist us.

If You Are Considering a Divorce

Divorce, it can seem overwhelming.  Filing for, and proceeding with, a divorce can be exhausting.  We have over 50 years of combined experience practicing family law.  Let us help begin to calm the storm.  With our experience and your advanced divorce planning, we can work together to quickly come to a resolution.  Contact our office at (505) 728-7799 to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case.