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Treatment of military benefits during divorce

Former and active military members and their spouses may find themselves subject to different rules when filing for a divorce in Oklahoma. In contrast to some civilian divorces, military benefits can comprise a significant amount of a couple's assets. Those benefits are sometimes divided, depending on the length of marriage during the course of service. The impact of a divorce under any circumstances can cause grief and conflict, but knowledge of the process may provide a faster resolution and more financial security.

For many couples where one or both parties are in the military, the pension and health benefits are significant assets during a divorce. In the case of disabled veterans, this could include disability compensation, which cannot be divided for a military divorce settlement. State laws provide specific guidelines on division of pension payments, but federal provisions allow for spouses with 10 or 20 years of marriage that coincide with service time to receive direct payments and possibly medical benefits.

Income and assets cannot become part of the settlement negotiations unless they are known to both parties. Several documents, depending on military branch and status, are available for this purpose. The Leave and Earnings Statement, for instance, will be important for spouses of active duty service members. Discharge and retirement papers, the Retiree Account Statement and other documents are important for ensuring a fair division of assets.

Divorce is often an emotionally draining experience fraught with conflict over child custody and property division. Federal laws alter some of the rules for a military divorce, and state laws govern other aspects. An attorney who is representing a party in this type of a proceeding may be able to negotiate a fair settlement that covers the applicable issues.

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