Divorce is common in military marriages. In fact, one report shows a divorce rate of 4.8% among military couples. This rate is high, especially compared to the 2.5% among civilians. This suggests that military couples should openly discuss divorce.

In addition to discussing divorce, it’s necessary to talk about its practical issues. These include visitation rights, spousal support and, notably, property division.

It’s important for military personnel to know the specifics of asset division. This can help avoid surprises when ending a marriage.

Divorce and dividing assets in California

In California, community property rules apply. This means that both spouses own everything they buy or get during marriage. The same rule applies in the event of a divorce. Each spouse gets an equal share. This applies to all assets, including military benefits.

Here are the main types of assets divided in a military divorce:

  1. Retirement benefits: Military personnel’s pensions are community property per state law. The non-military spouse may get some of these benefits. However, this depends on how long the marriage lasted and how it overlapped with military service.
  2. Survivor benefit plan (SBP): If the military spouse joins the SBP, the court may divide these benefits. During divorce negotiations, the non-military spouse might get a portion of them.
  3. Other benefits: The state may allow the division of other military benefits, like health care and other privileges. The length of the marriage and the duration of military service also affect this division.
  4. Other assets: The law views other assets as community property. These assets include homes, cars, savings, investments and personal property.

The exact division of assets can vary. It is usually determined through negotiation or by a judge if agreement isn’t possible.

Understanding property division laws

Property division is complex in any divorce but even more so in military divorces. So, for those going through a military divorce, consider consulting a legal professional. A legal professional can assist with the fair division of assets and explain the nuances of California divorce laws.