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Ten Common Misconceptions in Military Divorce


Don Johnson Jr.

            Each party to the military marriage should be aware of their rights.  There are many common misconceptions.  These misunderstandings are usually based on things that other military members have told each other.  In the Navy we call these people “Sea Lawyers”.  “Sea Lawyers” are military members that have read regulations, or federal law and overgeneralized it to every situation.  They are almost always WRONG!

            Sadly, many military couples do not know their rights and often give up valuable property and benefits when they end their marriage.

  1. “We haven’t been married for more than ten years.  So I don’t get a piece of my spouse’s military retirement.” 
  2. “My spouse gets disability through the VA and it reduces my share of the military retirement.”  (Yes and No)
  3. “I can’t use the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill if we get a divorce.”
  4. “My spouse will lose his security clearance if we have a contested divorce.”
  5. “My husband cheated on me and that’s a crime.  He’ll be demoted or kicked out!” 
  6. “My spouse will get kicked out if I file a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.”
  7. “My spouse is serving over-seas (or in another state).  I have to wait until he gets back to file for divorce.”
  8. “If I file for divorce, I won’t be able to move my children over-seas with me.”
  9. “My spouse pays me ½ of his BAH.  The JAG says I can’t get more than that.”
  10. "I cannot change my insurance beneficiaries (page two) during the divorce."

    In my practice as a Family Lawyer, I have heard several clients or opposing parties say, and honestly believe, the statements above.  The truth is, each of those ten statements are false and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. 
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