Service Members Civil Relief Act, Utah Service Members’ Civil Relief, Military Retirement and Alimony

Military Protections in Divorce

There are two sources of protection for our military personnel. One source is the United States Code (Service Members Civil Relief Act) found in 50 USC §§ 3901 – 4043.  The other is the Utah Service Members’ Civil Relief Act found in Utah Code Annotated §§ 39-7-101 to 119, which applies only to National Guard when mobilized by the Governor.

Typical protections offered by either one or both of the preceding statutes:

  1. Interest rate cap for pre-service debts
  2. Terminate residential and vehicle lease early
  3. Foreclosures, repossessions, and storage lien seizures all require court orders first

Utah Code sections referring to deployment:

  1. UCA § 30-3-33(19) Advisory guideline
  2. UCA § 30-3-10.9(10) Parenting Plan requirements
  3. UCA § 30-3-10(9) Custody considerations
  4. UCA § 30-3-10.4(6) Order modification

If either party is active duty, make sure the parenting plan includes all relevant provisions of a Custodial Responsibility Agreement (§ 78B-20-201)

Retirement Considerations

Contrary to prevailing voices, military retirement is subject to equitable division by a divorce court whenever the service member obtains a property interest in such retirement. There is no service time threshold requirement. The service time requirements trigger for health insurance for the spouse under the 20/20 Rule (20 years active service coinciding with 20 years marriage) and  there is a similar 10/10 rule for when DFAS will recognize and enforce a garnishment for alimony to a former spouse to be processed through DFAS.  But that is not to be confused with a legal recognition of when alimony is allowed.

Matt Wadsworth is a partner in Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins.  He has been recognized by Superlawyers for many years and Utah Legal’s Elite while practicing in Salt Lake City, Utah and Ogden, Utah. Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins has served many at Hill Air Force Base in Layton, Utah for over a decade. Mr. Wadsworth has processed many hundreds of divorce cases in Utah and has over 500 hours of trial experience while practicing for twelve years. Call for a consult today: 801-475-0123