Military Divorce in Colorado Springs

We offer a 10% Military Discount!

Graham.Law is truly a military divorce law firm – probably ⅓ of our cases involve the military, and most of us either veterans or family members. Or both. We have deployed, we have lived the military experience, and we have helped countless military families with their family law needs. In short, we have the expertise to represent you in your military family law case.

For a brief overview of some of the issues involved with a military divorce, see the article Understanding Military Divorce in Colorado in the Colorado Family Law Guide. You’ll no doubt recognize several issues unique to the military that apply to your family law case.

And then, if you would like a much more in-depth explanation of military family law issues, read our Military Divorce Guide – since 2001, this has been the go-to resource for lawyers and litigants alike.

What is a Military Divorce?

To the outside world, a divorce involving a military member or retiree is just like any other case. There are no special courts, the judges are the same, the pleadings and forms are the same, etc. And if you look in the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act, which Colorado has adopted, the same statutes apply to all divorces, whether military or civilian. Legally, there is no such thing as a “military divorce.”

But those of us who represent military members and spouses know that everything is not the same with a military family law case. Even before the case starts, when consulting with someone from our military community, we ask extra questions to make sure that Colorado even has jurisdiction to grant a dissolution of marriage. Simply living in Colorado pursuant to military orders, without more, is not sufficient to establish residence – we know that, because we have fought and won motions to dismiss when neither the military member or spouse is a Colorado resident.

And even if the spouse is a legal resident, federal law prohibits states from dividing military retirement unless the military member is a Colorado resident, or has consented to jurisdiction.

Knowing these rules is what separates a true military expert from those who dabble in such cases.

What if the Military Member Deploys During the Divorce?

Deployments are a fact of life for the military. Fortunately, they are not as long or frequent as they were a decade or so ago, but the reality is that a military member may deploy. If the member deploys while while the case is pending, he may “stay” the proceedings until the deployment ends under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

And even once the case is done, if a military parent deploys, she needs to have an attorney who understands how to protect her rights under the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody & Visitation Act. We have litigated cases under the Act, and our managing partner teaches the deployed parents act to fellow attorneys at CLEs (click to see the outline he teaches to attorneys).

What happens to support while the member is deployed? Does family separation pay or HFP count as income for purposes of calculating support and maintenance? For more information, read our article Understanding Military Pay & the LES in a Divorce.

Military Retirement, SBP & VA Disability

The division of military retirement has long been a complicated topic, and three major changes since 2016 have made that especially true:

  • Frozen Benefit Rule. Introduced with the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, the federal government now requires states to follow the Frozen Benefit Rule when dividing a military retirement, under which the spouse is not entitled to share in any post-divorce promotions or longevity increases.
  • Blended Retirement System. New for 2018, the Blended Retirement System combines the traditional military pension (reducing the annual credit from 2.5% to 2%) with a 401(k) style plan (a beefed-up TSP with a government match).
  • Indemnity for a VA Waiver. In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Howell1Howell vs Howell, 137 S.Ct. 1400 (2017). that states could not require a military retiree who waived retired pay to receive VA disability to indemnity the former spouse for the reduction in retirement.

If you are the spouse, you need to understand the Survivor Benefit Plan – not only to make sure it is implemented, but also because if you miss the 1-year deadline to apply for SBP, you’ve potentially lost it forever!

Spouse Entitlements to Military Benefits

Each branch of the armed services has a regulation requiring their members to support spouses during separation, pending a court order. After a court orders support or alimony, does your attorney know how to garnish military or retired pay?

Once divorced, the spouse may be entitled to 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 Tricare health and other benefits.

Award-Winning Military Divorce Attorneys

The list of issues unique to a “military divorce” goes on – this article doesn’t, so we urge you to dig deeper into the Military Divorce Guide for more details, and more issues that may arise.

Make sure your attorney understands the military. There are a lot of great family law attorneys in Colorado Springs, but not all of them understand the military, and fewer still truly know the issues like the veteran military divorce lawyers at Graham.Law

We have won several awards which show our family law skills (including being just one of three domestic relations firms in Colorado Springs to make the list of Best Law Firms in America from U.S. News & World Report. And we’re the only firm in town to have repeatedly won the Best Military Lawyers in Colorado Springs from Colorado Springs Style Magazine. (Goofy name, but this is actually an honor voted on by members of the El Paso County Bar Association).

Please consider Graham.Law for your military family law needs. You will not be disappointed.

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