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Military benefits add another layer to divorce

Many in New Orleans understand the complications that can arise with divorce. A couple spends one, two, three decades together - they have shared their lives for a considerable amount of time and have accumulated many assets. They have lived together under the same roof, blended their day-to-day activities together, had children, signed mortgages and car loans together, purchased furniture and vacation homes together and so on.

Imagine a very similar circumstance, but add in the complications of having one spouse fighting a battle overseas. This is what spouses deal with during a military divorce. While time spent together sometimes makes a civilian couple dread one another, time spent apart can drag a military couple into uncertain areas. The constant worries and doubts of having a spouse at war can emotionally drain an individual and leave them extremely stressed.

While one spouse experiences this, the other is at war, stressed about her or his current situation as well as the one at home. Then, when the spouse comes home, she or he finds that things are not how they were left and the couple cannot seem to click or communicate any longer. So they divorce.

Of course, this short-term divorce is not how it always goes. Some couples stick together for years and, because of this, a nonmilitary spouse may be eligible for certain military benefits. This depends on the length of the marriage and the military duty but the case of one woman who was married to an officer in the Air Force for 22 years has found that she may be able to receive medical benefits, even though her ex-husband has remarried. She will have to present the divorce decree and evidence of the marriage to the military and will not be eligible until her former spouse turns 60.

Other military retirement benefits can be divided during a divorce, but unless they are listed in the settlement, the nonmilitary spouse may not be eligible.

Source: Washington Times, "Does a veteran's ex-wife qualify for benefits?," Sgt. Shaft, Oct. 23, 2012

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