Is Alimony Or Spousal Support Granted Automatically?


Alimony or spousal support is not automatically granted in any divorce. In Alabama, a law has been passed that only allows alimony up to the length of the marriage. Accordingly, if you've been married for 10 years, the maximum amount of alimony that someone could pay is 10 years. Once a marriage has lasted for 20 years, the judge can consider ordering permanent alimony. The basic factors to be considered for an alimony award are the incomes of each party, the length of the marriage, the health of the parties, the ability of each party to earn, and the ability to pay and fault in the marriage.

Your attorney can give you a good read as to whether or not alimony will be considered in your case. The length of the marriage is a big factor in determining whether alimony will be ordered. However, you certainly want your military divorce lawyer to understand that while the divorce is pending, dependents are still entitled to support under military regulations.

Specifics Of Alimony Or Spousal Support If One Or Both Spouses Are In The Military

In any type of divorce, the court is going to look at what someone can pay before ordering them to pay an alimony award. The spouse has to be able to prove the “ability to pay” factor. With the military, it's easy to do. You get the LES and you determine exactly how much money that person has made. On the other hand, if one spouse is in the military and the other spouse owns a business, then you want to have an attorney who can track down that money earned through their individual business. You can typically do that through tax returns and profit loss statements and other accounting documents.

Is My Spouse Entitled To My Military Benefits And Retirement Pay?

Military retirement pay can be divided just like any other asset in Alabama now. There's no time limit. I’ve had military members think that their spouse can’t get their retirement because they were not married for 10 years. That’s not actually the law and if you are a spouse trying to get those military benefits, you certainly want an attorney who understands what those military benefits are and how to calculate the present value of the military retirement asset.

When it comes to base access, ID privileges, and access to military healthcare and TRICARE, the big rule that you need to know is the 20/20/20 rule. That's 20 years of marriage, 20 years of military service, and 20 years of overlap between the marriage and the military service. Only then is a dependent entitled to a Military ID card with all the requisite benefits that come along with that.

You don't want to file for divorce if you've been married for 19 years and six months and you're fed up with your spouse. If you came into my office in that scenario, I would say you need to wait it out and not even mention divorce again until it’s been 20 years. Healthcare and health expenses are the largest expense that you have in your older years and having that paid for by the government is invaluable.

With respect to spouses, you can get COBRA after a divorce. That's the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. With COBRA, you would have that as an access point for the spouse and for the children. The children can also stay on TRICARE as long as they're dependents in DEERS. Basically, they can stay on the parents’ TRICARE until they're 26 years old.

What Should I Know About Marital Shares in Military Pension Division?

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 has come to be known as the “frozen benefits rule” for military retirement division. Military retirement has historically been divided based on state laws. The Uniformed Former Spouses Protection Act allows the states to divide a military retirement as if it was any other asset. That was the law until 2017, when Congress decided to rewrite every state's law and make military retirement different from everything else. The current required method of military pension division now involves a hypothetical amount of retired pay which is calculated as if the military member retired on the date of the divorce decree being issued. In the new calculation the numerator is the number of years that you’ve been married, and the denominator is the amount of years of military service. If you're representing the military member, you want the denominator to be as big as possible. You want this to shrink to the other side's share of the total military retirement and the “frozen benefits rule” has absolutely helped with that.

For more information on Alimony/Spousal Support In A Military Divorce an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (256)533-8074 today.