By: Jessica A. Bryant
Serving in the military can have unique impacts on your Colorado divorce or custody proceeding ranging from questions as to the proper state in which to file, special protections for service members, and questions regarding retirement account division. In Part 1, I discussed the impact military service has on the state of filing and the protections afforded to military service members. This second part focuses on financial issues that are unique to military service and the effect deployment can have on parenting time.
One area unique to divorces where one or both parties are members of the military is the division of retirement accounts. Military members who serve a minimum of twenty years are entitled to pension benefits. Federal law allows the Court to divide a military retirement account if a variety of factors are met. This is a very technical area but two main requirements that must be met are that the parties must have been married for at least ten years overlapping the parties military service (i.e. for a ten year marriage the military member must have served all ten years for the court to be able to order direct division of the retirement account). Furthermore the military member must reside in the state not due to military orders, claim the state as his or her state of legal residence, or agree to the court’s jurisdiction before the court has the authority to divide the retirement plan. By way of example, let’s say a wife wants to get divorced, she and her child have lived in Colorado at least six months, husband, a military member, lives in Kansas but wife was able to get him served in Colorado when he came out for a visit. In those circumstances, even though Colorado has the jurisdiction to grant the divorce, decide custody, spousal support, child support and generally divide property and debt, Colorado would not be able to order the division of husband’s military retirement account unless husband agrees. Continue reading