Military families have specific needs that have to be met when they are undergoing a divorce. Divorce is never an easy situation, but when one individual is on active duty, it could prove to be even more difficult than a typical civilian divorce.
Dedicated to Representing Military Families Facing Divorce
I put a significant amount of effort into helping military members and their spouses undergo a divorce to make it as smooth of a process as possible. I am a Board-Certified lawyer who has proudly developed the capability and experience to handle military divorces.
I support military members and their spouses through each step of the process and stage of their divorce, no matter his or her rank or branch of service.
Contact us today for the compassionate representation you need for your military divorce in Florida.
Thorough Representation for Military Families in Florida
At Charles E. Willmott, P.A., I understand that military clients have busy lives and they want their questions answered in a timely manner. I strive to return phone calls on the day that my client calls and I will make every effort to do whatever it takes to successfully accomplish a case.
Not every lawyer can effectively handle military divorce issues and the disputes that arise with them. Even if you or your spouse is pursuing a divorce while deployed, my office can help you through the process. We can suit your scheduling needs with meetings over phone or through email.
I have been BV-rated and was Chairman of Jax Bar Family Law Section 2003 to 2010. My experience handling these situations has earned me credibility as a Jacksonville military divorce lawyer in my community.
Challenges of a Military Divorce in Florida
A military divorce is difficult when compared to a typical situation. That is because there are many laws, both state and federally, that apply. These specific laws are designed to protect military members while they are serving.
- The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) - (SCRA) was designed to protect service members against default judgments so that they are not in a divorce without being aware that proceedings have begun. The active duty member must be personally served with the summons.
- Child support - Issues surrounding child support may arise in a military divorce. However, this is determined based on the best interests of the child.
- Child custody - One of the most highly disputed aspects of a military divorce. The court may take into account the unique circumstances of military families, such as the frequent relocation of service members. Parents should develop a parenting plan that shows evidence of prioritizing the best interests of their child(ren) and the court will usually accept it.
- State residence - In order to obtain a military divorce in Florida, one of the spouses must reside in Florida and the active duty spouse must be stationed in Florida.
- Property division - Specific rules apply when the divorce involves a military family. Marital property is subject to equitable distribution in Florida. This means that property acquired during the marriage is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. Military pensions, however, are subject to federal law and may be subject to different rules than other assets under the 10-Year Rule.
As a military divorce lawyer in Jacksonville, I can help your family undergo a military divorce. I can answer questions and provide guidance as to what to do if you are deployed and served with divorce papers.
What is a Military Spouse Entitled to in a Divorce in Florida?
A military spouse may be entitled to no more than 60% of a service member's allowances and pay in a divorce in Florida. The Uniformed Service Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) regulates the division of retirement benefits. Suppose the marriage lasted at least ten years. In that case, all retirement benefits accrued during the marriage are marital property and must be split equally.
The court will adjust the percentage of the retirement benefit based on:
- Any retirement benefits the non-military spouse has earned in the marriage
- Any unequal division of other property
Military Benefits After Divorce
Many issues come about when a service member and his or her spouse make the decision to dissolve their marriage. One of the primary concerns both parties have in a divorce pertains to the benefits that they are eligible for even after the divorce.
The military spouse can be specifically concerned with this situation and anxious to understand what benefits carry over after divorce. At Charles E. Willmott, P.A., it is my goal to help clients gain a better understanding of what benefits continue after divorce and which do not.
What is the 20/20/20 Benefits Rule?
You will need guidance on how to protect your retirement benefits and understand what you are entitled to under the 20/20/20 rule. This rule has been implemented to limit eligibility in regards to military benefits. These benefits and the rules governing a military divorce can be discussed by our military divorce attorney in Jacksonville, FL.
The 20/20/20 full benefits rule includes former spouses of service members. These individuals are entitled to all military benefits, including access to medical care, commissaries and military exchanges.
- The first “20” refers to the number of years the couple must have been married. In order to receive full benefits, the couple must be married for at least 20 years.
- This second "20" specifically refers to the number of years of eligible military service a veteran must have completed. Retired veterans must have a minimum of 20 years of service to be eligible for retirement benefits.
- The last "20" refers to the number of years in which the marriage overlapped with servicemember's retirement-creditable service.
To recover full military benefits, the spouse must meet three requirements.
Former Spouses Eligible for TRICARE Medical Coverage
If you were once married to a service member and meet certain requirements, you may be entitled to TRICARE medical coverage. This is referred to as the 20/20/15 rule. To be eligible, the following must be true:
- The service member must have performed at least 20 years of creditable service.
- Your marriage must have lasted at least 20 years.
- The period of your marriage must have overlapped with the period of service by at least 15 years.
However, under the 20/20/15 rule, former spouses will not have access to military exchange, installation privileges or commissary privileges.
Common Military Divorce Issues
If you are a member of the military, you probably have many questions concerning the benefits that will continue after divorce. There are a few common issues that my firm can help military members fully understand.
Issues that the military member may be concerned with include:
- What to do if served with divorce papers while deployed
- What the Ten-Year Rule means and how to protect retirement benefits
- How divorce affects the home and Veterans Affairs (VA) exemptions
- How concurrent pay and VA disability will affect retirement benefits
- Proper calculations of support based on BAH, BAS, and special pays
Spouses of military members typically have other areas of concern. They are more focused on what benefits they will still have after divorce, even though the marriage is being dissolved.
Common concerns that a military member's spouse may have when contemplating divorce include:
- Whether or not he / she will keep health insurance and other benefits
- What the retirement rights are after divorce, including survivor benefit plans
- How VA disability will affect the individual's share
- What is still available after divorce under the 20 / 20 / 20 rule.
- What is required to protect the survivor benefit package after the divorce
- How to ensure that children will be protected with SGLI and Tricare benefits
Former Spouse Protection in Florida Military Divorce
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) does not automatically provide a former spouse with the military member's retirement pay. The law does, however, permit the state to view military disposable retirement pay as marital property.
Therefore, the disposable military retirement pay can be divided during the divorce proceeding. During a military divorce, retired pay can be divided for property settlement purposes or be garnished for child support or alimony payments.
Under the USFSPA, a former spouse can receive survivor benefit plan benefits. This allows retired service members to provide monetary assistance to the beneficiary after death. If the beneficiary is a former spouse, the court or military member can choose to allow continued benefits for this individual.
Former spouses are also allowed to receive commissary and healthcare benefits after a divorce under certain conditions. If the marriage lasted for 20 years and the military member served for 20 years, the spouse may be entitled to full benefits.
Exploring Your Options: Collaborative Divorce for Military Families
At Charles E. Willmott, P.A., we understand that military divorces can be complex and emotionally challenging. That's why we offer collaborative divorce as an alternative approach for military families in Jacksonville, FL.
Collaborative divorce is a cooperative and respectful method of resolving disputes without going to court. It involves both parties, their attorneys, and other professionals, such as financial advisors and mental health experts, working together to find mutually agreeable solutions.
Benefits of collaborative divorce for military families include:
- Reduced conflict and stress
- Preservation of co-parenting relationships
- More control over the outcome
- Less time and cost compared to traditional litigation
- Confidentiality and privacy
Our experienced Jacksonville military divorce attorneys can guide you through the collaborative divorce process, ensuring that your rights and interests are protected while keeping the best interests of your family in mind.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and explore whether collaborative divorce is the right option for your military divorce case.
Contact Jacksonville Military Divorce Lawyer
Military benefits are not understood by all divorce attorneys. It is a specific area that requires special attention. There is a unique procedure that must be taken to protect your rights to a survivor benefit plan. Military retirement benefits are especially important to know about and understand.
My office can help you if you are out-of-state or out-of-country by communicating through email or over the phone. I can also discuss the option of your appearance at court hearings through a phone call.
If you are in the military and going through divorce, call Charles E. Willmott, P.A. to speak to our military divorce attorney in Jacksonville today about protecting your rights!
"Charles Willmott is a dedicated professional who will speak the truth. Mr. Willmott is straightforward with his clients and is willing to listen. He can take what at times can be very messy situations and come up with a clear plan of action."
"I was a mess the first day I met with him; he immediately put my mind at ease and explained the different outcomes my divorce may have had. He's extremely knowledgeable, upfront, and honest."
"I have been a client of Charles for almost nine years, and he has never let me down. He always told me what to expect and has been right every time."
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Nearly 30 Years of Experience in Family Law
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