Military Divorce

A military divorce in Colorado can be challenging.   Military divorces and legal separations include issues such as does the court have jurisdiction; division of the service member's military retirement; how to retain valuable benefits for the spouse and children; division of thrift savings plans; and relocation issues that may have long-term effects on kids.  These cases also raise international family law issues too.  

One of the first things you may want to do is consult any guides that have been prepared by your branch of the service.  For instance, the Air Force has created this document:  and other branches may provide you will equally helpful information.  

One of the most important things you will need to know is that you are protected from being held accountable if you fail to respond to a divorce action while on active duty. Under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, and at the discretion of the local Colorado Court, proceedings may be postponed or adjourned until the service member returns (if serving in a war or in some cases just in active duty). On the other hand, the service member may initiate or wish to proceed with divorce and that is also an option.

There are special rules regarding serving divorce and other summons on active duty spouses/partners.  In an uncontested case, the active military member may not have to be served as long as he or she signs and files a waiver affidavit acknowledging the divorce action.  Otherwise, the service member will need to be personally served with a summons and a copy of the divorce action in order for a Colorado Court to take jurisdiction. To file, typically, you or your spouse/partner must reside or must be stationed in Colorado.

Grounds for divorce are the same but dividing property can require some expertise.  Dylla Family Law has the experience to calculate and divide military retirement benefits as well as help you understand the ins and outs of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) that governs military retirement benefits.  It is the USFSPA that will authorize any direct payments of a portion of a military retirees’ pay to the former spouse/partner.  However, it requires 10 years or longer of creditable service before retirement benefits can be divided and directly distributed, but if you’ve been married for less than 10 years, it is not the case that military retirement still cannot be divided.  These are issues you will want to talk about with an experienced attorney or with someone in your branch of the service who can give you more detailed information.

In Colorado, child support guidelines, worksheets, schedules, and calculators are used to decide the amount of child support that the non-residential parent will contribute. However, neither child support or alimony awards, current or retroactive, may exceed 65% of a military member’s pay and allowances.

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