It may come as no surprise to you to learn that the divorce rates for military couples are higher than those of the general population, increasing to 3.7 percent higher in 2011 from 2.6 higher in 2001. However, you may be surprised to learn that having an active duty spouse can affect your Pennsylvania divorce proceedings.
While many of the issues in an active duty military divorce are the same in a traditional divorce, such as child custody, the division of assets, and the possible payment of alimony and spousal support, one spouse's military status can affect the filing, timeline, and ultimate outcome of the case.
For example, service members are protected by The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which allows for the temporary suspension of legal proceedings and transactions. The purpose of SCRA is to ensure that active duty military personnel are not placed at a disadvantage in any pending divorce or custody proceedings as a result of being deployed.
As in most divorces, the service member's pension is often one of the most valuable marital assets to be divided. However, dividing these retirement plans becomes more complicated when one spouse is in the military. For example, some military pensions are divisible in a divorce, while others are not. Military retirement pay that has been waived in order to receive veteran's disability payments is exempt from equitable distribution. This essentially allows service members to exclude a portion of their retirement benefits from the marital estate by converting it to disability payments. Additionally, a mix of state and federal rules governing military pensions may make it challenging for a former spouse to collect pension benefits even when awarded by the court in a divorce action. Depending on the amount of time the marriage overlaps the years of service, the pension benefit will either be paid directly by the government, or it will be send to the payee directly by the military spouse.
Given the complexities that may arise in a Pennsylvania military divorce action, it is imperative that you retain a divorce attorney who has extensive experience handling military divorce cases. Contact our experienced Pittsburgh military divorce attorneys at McMorrow Law, LLC at 724-940-0100 for a free consultation.