Military Divorce in Beaufort: Your Questions Answered


Divorce is stressful even under the best of circumstances but the challenges are even more significant when a military family is involved. We understand you have a lot of questions about custody, pensions, healthcare and more. We’re answering some common questions below but encourage you to reach out about your unique situation.

Unlike civilian divorces, military divorces have additional legal and logistical issues. A military divorce attorney knows the law as it applies to service members and their families. Fender Law Firm has been successfully handling military divorces in Beaufort for over a decade. Whether you’re a military service member in Beaufort County or a military spouse, our compassionate legal team will ensure you understand your rights and fight for fair treatment.

The short answer is, it depends. The military spouse is typically entitled to a portion (percentage) of the service member’s pension and Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), if the service member contributed to a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) during the marriage. Depending on the length of marriage, a military spouse may be entitled to ask the service member to designate the spouse as the beneficiary of the servicemember’s retirement. This is commonly referred to as the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP).

The longer the couple is married while the service member is active duty, the larger the share the spouse will receive after the divorce. The amount will be determined by negotiations between you and your spouse or through the court.

Yes, your children will still qualify for Tricare health benefits after the divorce. In order to maintain healthcare coverage and ensure your children are still covered in the event the service member is deployed, a number of steps must be taken. Fender Law Firm will guide you through this process.

A spouse’s right to continuing Tricare health benefits depends on both the length of the marriage and the length of military service. The spouse is automatically entitled to keep these benefits if the couple has been married for at least 20 years, the spouse has been in the military for at least 20 years and if the marriage has overlapped the military service by 20 years. The military appreciates the service of military spouses and believes that after 20 years, those benefits have been earned.

If the marriage hasn’t lasted for 20 years while the service member has been on active military duty, then the spouse may not be eligible to keep the benefits. In some cases, the law will allow the spouse to maintain a portion of the benefits. We strongly encourage you to consult with the Fender Law firm military divorce team to review your case.

Custody gets even more complicated when deployments or change of station duty is factored in. Unless you and your spouse are able to work out an agreement, the courts will decide a custody arrangement based on what’s in the best interests of the children. You need a lawyer that’s experienced in military custody issues to advocate on your behalf.
When children are involved and a spouse wishes to relocate out of state after a divorce, the situation can become even more stressful and complicated. Unless you and your spouse are able to negotiate a relocation independently, or through mediation, expect your case to involve a lengthy court battle. In these difficult cases, you want a military divorce lawyer in Beaufort that gets results.

A number of factors come into play to determine whether a spouse is eligible for spousal support. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Your income
  • You spouse’s income
  • Marriage length
  • Reason for divorce

Both spouses must present evidence on the need for support or ability to pay support. The court then decides whether spousal support will be paid and the amount payable. It is possible to negotiate spousal support outside the courtroom. Fender Law Firm can represent your interests through mediation or in the court.

Proudly serving the Beaufort community for three generations

We bring over 25 years of experience to your case and will work patiently and tirelessly to bring you peace of mind.

Our roots run deep and date back to the Dowling & Dowling firm founded in 1941. Attorney Addison Fender continued his family's legacy in 2010 when he and his wife Tracy, one of the county's most experienced paralegals, opened Fender Law Firm. Guided by the practice's long standing values of compassion, honesty and fairness, our highly skilled team offers family legal services in Beaufort, Blufton, Hilton Head and surrounding areas.


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If you find yourself in need of Family Law representation, don’t wait another day to reach out and set up a consultation. Put the experienced team at Fender Law Firm on your side to help reach your goals. Call 843-379-4888 right now, or fill out the form below.