Military service is an honorable pursuit for which we, as Americans, are all grateful. Unfortunately, the personal sacrifices that military servicemembers make can disrupt their family relationships, sometimes resulting in divorce. Ordinarily, matters concerning the division of property upon divorce and the provision of domestic support are strictly within the province of state law. However, the distribution of marital assets and liabilities in military divorces must consider the application of relevant federal rules.
To ensure your property rights and interests are adequately considered in a military divorce, you should seek the legal counsel of a dedicated Orange County division of military benefits lawyer at Moshtael Family Law. Backed by over thirteen decades of collective legal experience, our legal team is poised to provide you and your family with comprehensive legal representation when it comes to dividing property in a military divorce.
At Moshtael Family Law, we can advise you on the following issues:
California has a significant military community, with bases located throughout the state. For divorces filed in California, property division issues are governed by principles of community property. Under California law, all property that a couple acquires during marriage is considered to be community property subject to equal division upon divorce. This includes real estate, vehicles, financial investments, earnings from work, and financial accounts.
Furthermore, state courts have the authority to order a party to pay spousal support and child support to their former spouse and children after divorce—known collectively as domestic or family support orders. Under California law, courts may assign retirement benefits to satisfy orders regarding the division of community property and the provision of domestic support.
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces are generally entitled to receive military retired pay in the form of monthly pension benefits. Federal law authorizes state courts to order retired pay to satisfy a servicemember’s child support obligations and settlement of community property upon divorce.
Military retirees can choose to participate in the Armed Forces’ Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), which provides benefits to a designated beneficiary in the event that the retiree passes away. The U.S. government funds its military SBP by withholding amounts from a servicemember’s monthly retirement benefits.
Under federal law, a state court can order military servicemembers to join the SBP and designate their former spouse as a beneficiary, pursuant to a divorce settlement.
According to federal regulations, payments that a retired military servicemember receives as compensation for disabilities they developed in connection with military service are not subject to characterization as community property. There are limited exceptions to this rule that may allow state courts to reach a servicemember’s disability benefits. Our legal team can evaluate whether an exception applies to your case.
If you are in the midst of a divorce with a member of the U.S. military, you should seek the professional legal services of an experienced attorney at Moshtael Family Law. Our legal team has dedicated decades of their legal practice to helping people navigate the complexities of California family law, including issues related to military divorce.
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