All divorce cases require an analysis of each spouse’s assets, debts, and income. Divorce involving a military servicemember is no different. Basic documents such as the leave and earnings statement (LES), disability determination, points statement, etc. should be obtained in every case. There are several ways to obtain this information, with the last resort being a direct request to the government.
- The documents may be kept in the marital residence, and therefore the civilian spouse can simply copy them and provide them to his/her lawyer.
- The military spouse can provide them to counsel voluntarily upon receipt of an informal phone or written request. Military members’ pay, rank, points, and related information is available online to every member at https://mypay.dfas.mil (https://www.dcms.uscg.mil for Coast Guard).
- The military spouse can sign an authorization permitting the civilian spouse’s lawyer to obtain the information directly from the military.
- If the servicemember will not cooperate voluntarily, the civilian spouse’s lawyer should send formal written discovery in the form of interrogatories and requests for documents. The request should specify the documents demanded. The servicemember must provide the documents in his possession, or that s/he can readily obtain. Providing the documents requested are not sensitive or classified, or the servicemember is not able to respond due to deployment or other duty, s/he has access and must provide them within 30 days of the request.
- The servicemember can also be served with a subpoena duces tecum, requiring him/her to appear for a deposition at the lawyer’s office, in person, to answer questions under oath. This type of subpoena also requires the servicemember to bring the requested documents to the deposition.
- If the servicemember cannot be found, is unable to respond, or simply refuses to cooperate, the civilian spouse can obtain the member’s financial information directly from the military. The attorney should send a subpoena to DFAS in Cleveland at Records Retrieval (CODE HAC), 1240 East 9th Street, Room 2679, Cleveland, OH 44199-2055, or by fax to 216-522-6530. The subpoena must be signed by a judge, not the lawyer as is common in Wisconsin.
7. DFAS does not handle requests for disability-related compensation. Those requests must be sent to the regional VA office. For Madison, the address is: 2500 Overlook Terrace, Madison, WI 53705.
Attorney David Kowalski routinely handles military divorces for both servicemembers and their spouses. Contact him at 608-405-6663 with any questions.