In the 7 years that I've been writing The Paycheck Chronicles, I've received hundreds of comments and emails from military members and ex-spouses who are thinking about, in the middle of, or dealing with the results of divorce. And, because this is a money blog, I hear money stories. Based upon the stories I've heard, and the questions I receive, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about how military service impacts the division of marital property.
In particular, I hear from many people who have been divorced for several years but are just now realizing that their property settlement was structured in a way that isn't particular fair to one party or the other. Sometimes, this was a deliberate, with one party trying to "take" as much as possible. Often, though, it is because the settlement agreement didn't take into consideration all of the special issues that come with military service, including the Survivor Benefit Plan, making allowances for VA benefits, and all the ramifications of dividing retirement accounts (both civilian and military.)
It's clear that the information currently available isn't great, and that the parties (and their lawyers) aren't always considering all the different aspects of the situation.
Right now, I'm trying to learn as much as possible about the subject. To that end, I'd love to hear your stories. If you are military, or your (ex-)spouse is military, and you are anywhere in the divorce process, please share! I'm looking for details on how the process unfolds, what sort of things were considered, and what things went right and wrong. I'm particularly curious about the settlement agreement, how you came to an agreement, what sort of things are included, and whether you think that it was all equitable or if you think that the agreement wasn't really that good. For those of you who have been divorced a long time, has your opinion about the settlement agreement changed over time?
Your answers will help me know what topics need to be covered in future posts, so you will be helping me AND you will be helping your fellow readers. Thank you so much!