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How military rules affects servicemembers' Arkansas divorces

The end of a marriage can be an extremely stressful time for Pulaski County couples. Incorporating military regulations into the divorce process can complicate matters even further, especially in the midst of servicemembers' transfers and deployments. Similar issues of child custody, support matters and asset division affect all divorcing Arkansas couples, although a military divorce follows special rules.

Civilian attorneys who represent military personnel in divorce actions must have a thorough understanding of provisions of the Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The USFSPA details the terms of the division of military pensions as marital property.

The USFSPA also outlines what benefits beyond retirement pay the ex-spouse of a military servicemember can receive, including health care, exchange and commissary benefits. You may have heard of the 20/20/20 rule, which refers to a spouse's minimum years of military service, the minimum length of a marriage and the overlapping time of these two events. An ex-spouse who qualifies under the 20/20/20 rule receives full commissary, exchange and medical benefits after divorce.

Exes also may qualify for full, temporary benefits under a 20/20/15 rule – 15 years of overlapping service and marriage. Under this rule, benefits are available for one year following a military divorce. When qualifications aren't met, an ex is entitled to no benefits after divorce.

Under the USFSPA, states are permitted to view military pensions as marital property. This does not guarantee an ex will receive part of a servicemember's retirement pay. Under the 10/10 rule – at least 10 years of service and 10 years of marriage – an ex receives a portion of a military pension directly through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Information here just brushes the surface of a few issues involved in a military divorce. For further details, divorcing spouses are advised to contact individual military family law attorneys.

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