Colorado Springs Military Divorce Lawyer
If you’re a member or a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces, our firm thanks you for your service. Serving in the military is difficult and stressful – far beyond what most people think. Not only are there the possibilities of being deployed to combat zones, but the stress arising from being away from a spouse and children is difficult.
As the firm’s founding attorney, Will Saroyan served for years in the judge advocate and other positions with the United States Air Force, where he was ranked as the #1 Appellate Attorney worldwide, and the #4 Criminal Defense Attorney worldwide.
Being a Veteran himself, Will Saroyan and his firm understand this stress. We also understand the commitment and dedication that goes into serving in the armed services.
When a divorce becomes inevitable, we stand ready to provide affordable representation, including handling matters involving alimony and child support, parenting time and custody, and property division. We serve veterans, retirees, and all current members of the military, including those stationed at local military bases (including Fort Carson AFB, Schriever AFB, Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, and the U.S. Air Force Academy). And if you’re deployed – we can still assist. Having served overseas, Will Saroyan understands the difficulties of communicating with those who are CONUS, and accepts calls day and night to make sure you have what you need during a difficult time.
The following sections discuss various aspects and questions concerning military divorce; please also see our Colorado Springs Divorce page for more information.
The Special Circumstances that May be Involved in a Military Divorce
While there are important exceptions, there is generally no difference in the law that pertains to a divorce involving a member of the military as opposed to a civilian. But, as they say, sometimes the exceptions swallow the rule.
Is a Divorcing Military Spouse Entitled to Military Pension Benefits?
There is a difference in how the law treats certain pension benefits for divorcing spouses in which one member is (or has been) a member of the military. With non-military spouses, in order to qualify for federal pension benefits, the spouse seeking benefits must have been married for at least 10 years. In the military arena, a state court can award a spouse a portion of the military pension irrespective of the length of the marriage.
Under the Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act, military pensions are treated as martial property. Like other marital property, pensions thus must be divided.
Calculating the Pension Benefit
Until 2017, military pensions – which were seen as marital property – were often divided 50/50 for the years where the military member was both in the military and married at the same time. The calculations, however, varied from state to state as each stated decided how to “equitably” divide the asset. Under the new rule, the federal government has required that the calculation be identical in every case. Specifically, the division of the pension is based upon the rank, time in service, and retired base pay of the military member at the time of the divorce; thus the increased pension due to serving at a higher rank accrues entirely to the member of the military, not to the former spouse.
Are the Divorcing Spouses of Military Members Entitled to Spousal Support or Alimony?
In Colorado, there is no special treatment afforded to spouses of military members. Instead, whether a military spouse is entitled to spousal support (now called “maintenance”, and formerly referred to as “alimony”) is determined in accordance with state law.
In Colorado, there is no set standard in terms of when the court may require maintenance. Typically, the court will consider a number of factors, including:
- The length of the marriage;
- The differences in income earning potential between the spouses;
- Whether one spouse may have given up a career to support the career of the other spouse, or to raise the couple’s children; and
- Whether a spouse has the skills and ability to obtain gainful employment; particularly given age and health conditions.
The general consideration is that maintenance should be a short-term benefit while a spouse secures gainful employment. It’s also important to remember that maintenance is separate and apart from amounts required for child support.
How are Child Custody and Parenting Time Determined in a Military Divorce in Colorado?
Fundamentally, primary child custody and parenting time in a military divorce are handled in the same manner as in a non-military divorce. Colorado courts and the legislature have a strong presumption that children will benefit most when they have significant quality time with both parents.
It’s important to understand that courts will not “punish” the person “responsible” for causing the divorce by withholding or limiting custody or parenting time.. Therefore, a spouse who engaged in an extramarital affair will still have the same rights to seek custody and parenting time.
Typically, the only limitations on custody and parenting time will be in situations where child abuse has occurred, or if the children might be in a situation that could be dangerous to their health. For example, if one parent is a chronic alcoholic or is addicted to drugs, that parent may not be able to properly look out for the welfare of the children. In such case, the court might deny custody or parenting time rights, or may require supervision.
In determining custody and parenting time in a military divorce, the fundamental difference concerns whether the military member is currently being deployed (or is scheduled to be deployed). In these circumstances, consideration must be given to the circumstances that may be involved, including how long the deployment might last. Nevertheless, a good attorney will argue for ongoing visitations by Skype or other means while the military member is deployed. Indeed, there is case law in Colorado on this point in which the Colorado Supreme Court held favorably for the deployed military member.
What Property Are Spouses Entitled to in a Military Divorce?
With the exception of military retirement pay, the division of assets in a military divorce follows the same considerations as in a non-military marriage. Specifically, a determination needs to first be made as to what property is “marital” property, and what property is “separate” property. Thereafter, the parties can agree as to the division of marital property, or this determination can be made by the court. Importantly, the division of property is “equitable”, which does not mean equal.
What Property is Included as “Marital Property” in Colorado?
In Colorado, property acquired during a marriage is said to be “marital property.” Marital property thus can include real property (such as home), personal property (such as vehicles), money, and financial assets (such as stocks and ownership in business). In a Colorado divorce, including a military divorce, marital property is divided “equitably.” Unless divorcing spouses agree upon a division of property (which happens in most cases), it will be up to the court to determine what constitutes an “equitable division.”
What Property is Considered “Separate” Property in Colorado?
Property owned before the marriage by one spouse, and gifts or inheritance to one spouse, are considered separate property. Additionally, a personal injury award may – or may not – be considered marital property depending on a number of factors. Additionally, separate property can be deemed to have been converted to martial property upon certain circumstances, such as if one spouse begins using inheritance money to make mortgage payments on the couple’s house.
Answering Questions and Helping Relieve the Stress of a Divorce
If you’re considering a divorce, you likely will have many questions. Once I meet with you, I can answer your questions and help you through addressing the many issues that must be considered in a divorce.
Divorce is stressful. If you are on deployment (or about to be deployed), it is even more so.
My role is to take on the stress and matters that must be addressed in a divorce, so that you can focus on your life, your career, and even your deployment.
Call Me to Get Started Today
I offer a free consultation so that you can meet with me to determine if I am the right lawyer for you.