Does My Attorney Really Understand My Military Divorce?

Posted on Feb 25, 2013 by Katie Carter

Does My Attorney Really Understand My Military Divorce?

Sometimes I wonder why the military loves acronyms. It’s not just any one branch of service either. They all love little loaded words like PCS, TAD, TEMADD, IA, DITY moves…and more frustrating, there isn’t a dictionary you can readily buy beforehand to learn all of these acronyms. After I was in the Navy for about 18 months, I recall hearing my wife talking on the phone and she was throwing around words she never would have used a short while before. I think she said something like, “Yeah, after we PCS’d down here to Norfolk and suffered through a DITY move, my husband checked on board his new Command only to learn that he might have to do an IA shortly. On top of all that, we just had a baby and he just got home after being TAD for the last two weeks. He better not have spent all his per diem while he was gone either.”

Little did I know, she was being indoctrinated into the culture even though she wasn’t the military member. This is also to say, she suffered through quite a bit of separations and pulled a lot of double-duty taking care of the kids while I deployed. If you think there isn’t a value to that service to our country, you are wrong. On top of that, courts will readily award a military spouse a portion of her husband’s retirement – even if the servicemember isn’t set to retire for many years. This is all good news for the military spouse.

I talked in an earlier post about the questions you should ask an attorney during a consultation.
If you are concerned that your case has a military specific nuance to it, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask your prospective attorney if he or she has ever handled a military divorce case before – and how many.

There is quite a bit of good news for the military spouse. First, all military servicemembers are paid according to a Pay Chart – that is readily available on-line and through the DFAS website. Second, all military members receive a bi-monthly Leave & Earning Statement (or LES Statement). This paystub details the base pay, tax free housing and food allowance, tax information, deductions for SGLI (Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance) and other any other allotments, as well as keeps a running tab on Leave accrued and earned AND what the servicemember’s Pay Entry Base Date and rank is. Finally, if the servicemember contributes to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), this will also be detailed here.

This one little piece of paper contains a wealth of information that will be crucial in negotiating any Divorce Case. If you can bring this document to your initial consultation, and the attorney is competent in military divorce cases, he or she should be able to quickly read this one-page and provide a snap-shot of a very important portion of your current financial situation.

Another word of good news. Almost anything dealing with military pay and incentives is readily available during the Discovery process in a case. Unlike someone operating a sole proprietorship or a small business, there is usually less of an opportunity for the servicemember to be hiding vast amounts of funds and assets. This isn’t to say that this doesn’t happen, but in general, we are able to more readily ascertain the universe of assets and liabilities we are dealing with.

While you may feel that your military divorce case is overly complicated, the right Military Divorce Attorney should be able to walk you through everything you need to know about military pay, retirements, allotments, incentives and entitlements – and most importantly your share of all of it.

There are very specific rules governing divorce in Virginia. At Hofheimer Family Law Firm we are committed to providing you with the experience and compassion you deserve and the successful results you need to move on with your life. Request a FREE copy of our divorce guide for women in Virginia, or reserve your seat at our monthly divorce seminar – 757-425-5200.