Dear Ms. Vicki,
I was married for almost 20 years to an Army man. During our divorce two years ago, the judge ordered my husband to pay me one-third of his retirement.
When it came to drawing up the paperwork, my husband's attorney said I was entitled to only one-third of half of his retirement. Since I wasn't working at the time, I had to go pro se, or without an attorney, so they wrote up the divorce papers to their satisfaction.
My husband also took our youngest child (then 11) and kept her from me for almost a year. I was hysterical because he wouldn't let my daughter see me or talk to me. The marital home also foreclosed in six months -- from start to sale.
Do you think that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will correct their error? And do you think I can still fight for custody of my daughter, now 13, with a military lawyer?
I think you have a right to fight for whatever you want. You can fight for at least joint custody and/or visitation with your daughter and for the retirement the judge ordered. This is why I always advise spouses to get a lawyer of their own.
I'm assuming your husband was given physical custody of your daughter. Please revisit what the divorce decree said regarding your minor child. It's hard to believe there wasn't a ruling regarding custody, especially if that was an issue or concern between you and your husband.
You should send DFAS a copy of the divorce decree (the judge's orders). You should also petition the family court for custody and visitation with your daughter.
One organization I know of that may be able to help you is called Ex-Pose, Ex-Partners of Service members for Equality. They are dedicated to achieving equity for ex-spouses of service members. Their phone number is (703) 941-5844.
Again, you should try to retain a lawyer. Ex-Pose can give you guidance in that area. I hope this helps. Please write back with an update because your information will be valuable to me and other readers.
-- Ms. Vicki