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Important and Unique Issues to Consider in a Military Divorce
The honorable men and women who serve in our armed forces also run into various problems related to their service. Some of these issues get less press than Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) or the failing veteran’s system to provide for their healthcare. When it comes to divorce and child support, they have unique issues to be addressed.
Those who serve in our military do not receive pay in the same way that most Americans do via a bi-weekly paystub followed by a year end W-2. The military receive what is called basic pay, which is taxable by the federal government. However, they also receive special untaxed income called unearned income under the IRS tax code. Common examples are Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA), and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS). These are military terms for free meals and housing that are offered to military personnel. Many men and women in the armed services may show one or more of these types of income on their regular paystubs.
Under the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines (NJCSG), most employees and workers receive one type of income from their employer called gross income. This is the income they receive before taxes are taken out each time they are paid. This figure along with their regular paystubs are the numbers lawyers and judges use to calculate child support, if necessary.
With service members, the NJCSG also require the courts to include the person’s “military pay”, which means that not only will their basic pay be included, but also the unearned income they receive each pay period, such as housing allowance or subsistence allowance.
Parenting Time Schedule
As all military persons know, a common part of military life are deployments and training schedules. These deployments commonly take place in another part of the country or the world for lengthy parts of time. This time away from home (and your children) must be discussed and negotiated as part of the custody arrangement with a spouse or significant other.
Retirement/ Military Pension
The armed forces have the 20-year rule regarding pensions. This rule states that for those active military who serve for 20 years, they become eligible for a pension worth 50% of your highest 35 months of base pay. Any years beyond 20, the percentage increases at a rate of 2.5% per year.
For those that do not serve for 20 years, which is the majority, the federal government has created what is called the Blended Retirement System (BRS). The BRS allows military personnel to choose between the option of a Thrift Savings Plan, a pension, or both. If you have served for 12 years or less, then you have the option to choose BRS. Anyone who has joined the armed forces starting January 1, 2018 becomes automatically enrolled in the BRS.
Military pensions, like a 401(k), is also subject to division in a divorce matter and must be identified, evaluated, and divided like any other asset in a divorce.
Each of the above issues is unique to military personnel and must be addressed as part of any divorce or child custody/support negotiation or settlement. Its important to have an attorney with experience addressing these issues when the need arises.
Contact a Mercer County Alimony and Spousal Support Attorney Today
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