In a horrific incident, Michael Haight, a 42-year-old insurance salesman, shot and killed his wife Tausha Haight, his mother-in-law Gail Earl, and their five children before taking his own life in Enoch City, Utah. The tragic event occurred after Tausha filed for divorce on December 21st.
This incident underscores the devastating consequences of divorce, particularly when children are involved. It’s essential to seek support and guidance during difficult times, especially in military divorce cases where unique factors such as deployment and relocation can complicate matters further.
Research studies have shown that the overall divorce rate of military couples is almost double the average national divorce rate. For instance, in 2019, approximately 3.09% of military members who were married and held military jobs ended up divorced within that same year. However, getting a divorce from a military spouse is more complicated than it is for civilians.
Military divorces have unique legal aspects that civilians don’t typically face. For instance, federal law governs their pension and benefits. As such, specific requirements must be met to divide assets and properties during a divorce.
Some acts that may affect a military divorce include:
The USFSPA provides guidelines for the division of military retirement benefits, property, debt, and other benefits during a divorce.
Under what is known as the 20/20/20 rule of this federal law, an unremarried former spouse may enjoy some privileges if:
The 20/20/20 rule is a criterion that determines whether a former spouse can retain certain military benefits and privileges after divorce. If the rule is met, the former spouse can keep their military ID card and access privileges for medical care, theater, commissary, and exchange. If not met, the former spouse may lose these benefits or have them reduced or limited.
The SCRA provides legal protections for active-duty military members and their families. Federal law can suspend or postpone certain civil obligations to allow service members to focus on their duties. For instance, it can delay court proceedings and the enforcement of judgments while a service member is on active duty.
There are many factors to consider when dividing property and assets in a military divorce. First, it’s crucial to differentiate between marital and separate properties.
Marital property is property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on it. Marital property may include income, assets, debts, and other items related to the marriage.
In San Diego, being part of a community property state, all assets and properties acquired during marriage are generally divided equally between spouses.
Some properties may not be part of the marital state. It’s property that was acquired by only one spouse before marriage or during marriage by;
Separate property may also include assets agreed to be separate by the spouses in writing. They are generally not subject to division between spouses during divorce.
Military service is never a reason not to pay spousal or child support. Several factors determine the calculation of support payments. This includes:
The purpose of spousal support is to balance the disposable income and lifestyle established during the marriage. The amount is meant to grant the supported spouse reasonable time to attain self-sufficiency. When a couple separates, the court strives to maintain the “status quo” to the best of its ability.
One important factor to consider is the length of the marriage. In California, marriages that last longer than 10 years are considered “long-term marriages.” In such cases, the court may order spousal support for an indefinite period.
However, in military divorces, the court may consider the length of the military member’s service and the number of deployments they have experienced when determining the length of the marriage.
In California, the court uses a formula to calculate child support payments based on the following:
When one parent is underemployed or unemployed, it can create confusion and problems. That’s because all courts have a serious obligation to ensure that parents fulfill their duty of providing for their children.
Pro tip: Military pay, including base pay and housing allowances, is considered income for the purposes of calculating child and spousal support.
Military service often requires deployments, moves, and long periods away from home, which can impact parenting time and visitation schedules. However, in California, the courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining child custody and visitation arrangements. This includes considering factors such as the child’s:
When one parent is in the military, the court may need to make special accommodations. This is to ensure the military member can maintain a relationship with their child.
For example, the servicemember may designate a family member or friend to have temporary custody of the child. Visitation arrangements may need to be modified to accommodate the military member’s schedule.
Service members and military spouses need to protect their rights and interests during divorce proceedings. To achieve this, understanding the unique features of military divorce in San Diego is crucial.
Seeking legal guidance from a knowledgeable family and divorce attorney can assist in navigating the complexities of dividing military pensions, determining child custody and support, and addressing other military-specific issues.
If you need help with a divorce case, call 619-299-9780 to schedule a free telephone consultation or contact a San Diego family law specialist here.
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