Modern Arizona

Avoiding The Pitfalls Of A Military Divorce

July 20, 2023 Attorney Billie Tarascio
Avoiding The Pitfalls Of A Military Divorce
Modern Arizona
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Modern Arizona
Avoiding The Pitfalls Of A Military Divorce
Jul 20, 2023
Attorney Billie Tarascio

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In this eye-opening podcast dealing with couples who, Modern Divorce Host and family law attorney Billie Tarascio,  talks with Arizona's leading military divorce legal expert, Tucson-based attorney Matt Randle, as they delve into the complex legal world of military divorces.

Matt answers the questions, and more, about such things as:
1. What happens when one party is deployed during a divorce process?
2. Does a deployed parent lose rights when they can't attend court dates?
3. How does parenting time get split when one parent is serving in the military?
4. When domestic violence prompts a 'no guns allowed' rule, how does the military handle that?
5. What happens to on-base housing rights when one party is forced to leave the home?

As a veteran himself, Matt has been called upon to train family law attorneys in this special area of concern due to the overlapping requirements of the law, and of the military. He can be found at the law firm of Randall, Palmer and Bernas or by calling (520) 327-1409. 

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

In this eye-opening podcast dealing with couples who, Modern Divorce Host and family law attorney Billie Tarascio,  talks with Arizona's leading military divorce legal expert, Tucson-based attorney Matt Randle, as they delve into the complex legal world of military divorces.

Matt answers the questions, and more, about such things as:
1. What happens when one party is deployed during a divorce process?
2. Does a deployed parent lose rights when they can't attend court dates?
3. How does parenting time get split when one parent is serving in the military?
4. When domestic violence prompts a 'no guns allowed' rule, how does the military handle that?
5. What happens to on-base housing rights when one party is forced to leave the home?

As a veteran himself, Matt has been called upon to train family law attorneys in this special area of concern due to the overlapping requirements of the law, and of the military. He can be found at the law firm of Randall, Palmer and Bernas or by calling (520) 327-1409. 

Military Divorce Pitfalls

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Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast.

I am your host, Billie Tarascio, owner of Modern, Law and Loom without law school. And today I am joined by Matt Randall Tucson, family law attorney, military Divorce guru, and altogether very interesting human. Matt, welcome to the show. Thanks, Phil. 

[00:00:59] Matt Randle: Glad to be here. [00:01:00] 

[00:01:00] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. So you are joined today by three summer interns.

[00:01:04] Matt Randle: I am. Ladies. Hello. 

[00:01:07] Billie Tarascio: Hello. And have you all been learning a lot about family law, military Divorce? Indeed. Yeah, totally. Yes, of course. Always. Yeah. So, Matt, first, can we start off by asking how did you become kind of a specialist or guru in military Divorce? 

[00:01:25] Matt Randle: I. Well, I mean, I think first and foremost, I'm a veteran myself.

I served the United States Army from 1998 to 2003 was part of the invasion in Iraq. And so it was a particular area of interest for me and, and frankly from a business development model ha particularly in the military and veteran community, having somebody that speaks the language, that understands the intricacies and frankly that has the, the relationship.

You know, you can build a rapport with somebody when you have sort of shared interests or [00:02:00] backgrounds. It, it really had me lean into that area. Mm-hmm. And so as I became more familiar with it, because my client base was, was more on the hook for it I just inundated myself with the information.

And it 

[00:02:20] Billie Tarascio: really is an interesting area because you've got, you know, Divorce is usually a state law. It's all state law, except, you know, when you incorporate military, anything, they have their own rules, their own set of laws that touch everything else. 

[00:02:37] Matt Randle: Yeah. I, I mean the, the sort of cluster, if you will, of, of the intersection of military issues and family law is that federal statute.

Can in many, many circumstances govern. And then sort of as a result of that, while there are lots of state cases on point, they necessarily find themselves [00:03:00] up through the federal courts because of the application of federal law. And so it's been my experience and I think the case laws demonstrates this, that when.

When a decision is reached by the State Supreme Court, it almost always ends up then back in the federal courts because whichever side doesn't get their way, you know, immediately alleges a misapplication of federal law. And so now we're on the other side. And, and you know, the interesting thing is, is a result of that we, generally speaking, the, the issues that face military law and family law together are about five to 10 years behind the curve.

Because they have to wind theirselves through the secondary appellate process for us to get some, some statements of fact from the courts. 

[00:03:49] Billie Tarascio: That's a really interesting point. So as culture changes, as law changes, as the practice and the judges start moving in a different direction, which I have seen over my career, [00:04:00] what you're saying is the, the law and the rulings are based on fact patterns and issues and cultural things that were happening five or 10 years earlier.


[00:04:11] Matt Randle: You know, the, the, the big example in the last five years or so in, in military law was Howell v Howell. And, and, and as it happens, that came outta Arizona. And it was, it, it was in essence an argument about the division of military retirement and without boring the viewers about all the sort of ins and outs and the, and the finite points.

It boiled down to a very niche area within an already niche area where a retired service member whose wife already had a property interest vested by the courts through a Divorce. His military [00:05:00] retirement was reduced by his VA disability benefits. And so Mr. Howell's version of events is that Ms.

Howell's entitlement to a, some certain was reduced because his entitlement to some certain as as a whole piece of his military retirement. Was reduced. And, and Ms. Howell and her counsel argued un well successfully all through Arizona and then ultimately unsuccessfully at the Supreme Court that her interest was of uncertain.

But it got further complicated because then the VA and I, and I think an important point is we're not dealing with it. Just a singular federal entity because a military retirement is necessarily managed and governed by the Department of Defense. And then if, if for any practitioners that are watching that is paid through what we call [00:06:00] DFA s, the acronym D F A S, which is Defense, finance and Accounting Services.

Mm-hmm. Va. Disability monies mm-hmm. Are managed by the va. Mm-hmm. And they are two separate pots of money. Mm-hmm. These two entities, as is usually the case with the federal government, don't speak to each other. Mm-hmm. And they all have their own internal law. Right. Administrative as it might be about how things are handled.

And so the Howell decision ultimately said that, Mrs. Howell's rights were a percentage of a, some certain, not a dollar amount. Sure. And that was very helpful for us in a lot of ways, except that then the, one of the very few times the d o D and the VA started talking. There was this internal [00:07:00] policy shift that said if you were disability rated by the VA, and they make these ratings in increments of 10%, that anything north of 50%, you actually got your full military retirement and disability ratings.

So you actually were pulling from two pots of money and your benefit was increased. Mm-hmm. And as a, as a footnote, at least in Arizona, VA disability monies are not divisible as a property matter, not considerable as a child support, or excuse me, as a spousal maintenance matter, but they are considered income for the purposes of child support.

So that's, 

[00:07:41] Billie Tarascio: that's, so we, you are getting pretty high level, which I love. I love, but I want to bring us down a little bit if you'll let me. Yeah. So for somebody, let's say, who's had a short term marriage, let's say they've been married five years and they're either in the [00:08:00] military or they're married to somebody in the military, what do they need to watch out for that's different from the regular Divorce law?

[00:08:07] Matt Randle: Sure. So A couple of things cuz it, it necessarily touches different areas. The first thing is everybody needs to know that any spouse okay, is entitled to a percentage of. Of the retirement based on the length of the marriage. Mm-hmm. So there is, there, there is something called the 10 10 rule and people often are unaware or misconstrue.

It does not require that the spouse be married for 10 years of a service member's 10 year service to be eligible for anything. That is just an overarching d o d policy about how they pay spousal maintenance. Essentially, if you don't hit the 10 10 rule, the entitled spouse, the veteran or retired service member, has to make payment directly to the other spouse [00:09:00] north of 10 years, and the d o d writes the check themselves.

[00:09:03] Billie Tarascio: So somebody might be able to get spousal maintenance paid by the government to them. 

[00:09:08] Matt Randle: No, no, no, no, no. This is just as to the division of the retirement as a matter of community property. 

[00:09:13] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Okay. 

[00:09:14] Matt Randle: So if, if, if Ms. Jones, the spouse of the retired service member, was married to Mr. Jones for half of his career, she's entitled to 25% of the retirement, cuz half of half.

Mm-hmm. As long as that was 10 years or more. Mm-hmm. The D O D pays her directly for her share of the military retirement. Sure. If it nine years and 11 months, Mr. Jones has the right, the check himself every month because you can't get a quadro. Yeah. I mean, I, I guess conceivably you could still get a Quadro and lodge it as a matter of administrative.

You know, practice because you want d o d on notice, but the d o D won't write the check. [00:10:00] They've just, they won't split 

that retirement. They won't pay it directly. And you have a collections issue for sure. 

Absolutely. So enforcement collections become a big part of that puzzle. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. One of the interesting things that I always talk to folks about is that, at least at the initial thrust of a Divorce, when somebody is still in the military mm-hmm.

You know, in, in a standard case, there is no mandate for family support spousal child until there's a temporary order. Right? Right. Certainly, there's a presumption that you're eligible for that and you can be entitled to pass care and support. But the military and each branch has different. Laws, right?

Because we, the army has ar army regulation and the Marines and Navy have their own regulations and the Air Force has its own. And frankly, I don't know what the Space Force or the Coast Guard do, but they have their own. [00:11:00] But there are mandates within the military law that a service member is required to.

Provide family support to the, the spouse and the children that they're divorcing from until, and unless the court orders different. Now, each branch handles it differently. The Air Force uses a fraction system. The Army says all of the allowance for housing and all of the allowance for food goes. And I think it's the Marines that.

Oh no. The Air Force calls it adequate family support, and it's just up to the commander, whatever they think that is. But in any event you can, whether you are pro per representing yourself as the spouse of the service member or counsel out there, you can and should, if they're not taking care of their family, reach out to their chain of [00:12:00] command and assert the specific rules, and they're easily findable on Google.

And, and make the command aware that they are violating their own regulations by not enforcing this. And really, that's a double pronged thing because first of all, command doesn't like to be pointed out that they're messing up. But more importantly, you're drawing attention and notice to what's going on, and the command is necessarily in a position to put far more pressure on the service member than you will ever be.

And it guarantees then ideally the effective issuance of support until there's a temporary order or otherwise. 

[00:12:42] Billie Tarascio: So do you find from the, from the, let's say from the non-military spouse side, do you find they're going to get more money in maintenance and child support from the military orders than they would if they got a family court order?[00:13:00] 

[00:13:02] Matt Randle: It, it, I mean, it's pretty branch specific, right? So the Navy and Marines mandate a fraction system of the gross income of the service member, right? Mm-hmm. And it is sort of command directed, but because you are outright dividing gross income, probably more. Okay. The Army Makes it a pro rata share of the housing allowance.

Mm-hmm. And the Air Force is whatever the command thinks. Mm-hmm. So p potentially you could get more, but I, I think that as, as a matter of approach to the case mm-hmm. If you have a service member that is outright refusing to support the family unless a judge tells them to, I think that feeds a larger case about, What are we dealing with in terms of reasonableness, right?

That always being balanced against somebody's ability to [00:14:00] out, to just support themselves. You, you have to sort of take a look at what is the case call for. The other really interesting thing in terms of divorcing somebody that's actually in the services, oftentimes they're living on base housing, right?

And. There is nothing that says you cannot remain in base housing as the non-service member, as long as you're still technically married. The service of Divorce papers doesn't for the military kill the community in that regard. Okay. Once the Divorce happens, you have no right or entitlement to live on base.

Got it. And I, I have seen many a time where the service member end of a Divorce, Starts to assert some position that, well, if you're divorcing me, you're not in the military. Get out of the house. And, and that's just untrue. And again, you need to balance as, as a practitioner or as a pro, pro litigant am am I in a position where I can [00:15:00] adequately house myself and my, my dependents?

That's what the military calls children dependent. Mm-hmm. Outside of base housing, right? I have family support here. I'm in a position with my own employment to get a a second place. And if you are there, there is something to be said from a support entitlement perspective that when there is no housing cost, what you're probably entitled to is, is reduced significantly in, in a judge's eyes.

And then, you know, you have the issues of sole and exclusive use of the marital home. Sometimes the military won't recognize the local Superior Court's authority to dictate that because they have to. Yeah. 

[00:15:46] Billie Tarascio: So interesting. So we've, we've touched on retirement, we've touched on temporary support and spousal maintenance.

Let's talk about parenting time and decision making. How are parenting time and decision making impacted by military issues? [00:16:00] 

[00:16:00] Matt Randle: Sure. So, Necessarily because we're dealing with a whole bunch of different stuff. Arizona has actually done a really good job eliciting some, some boundaries and some rules in that process, right?

So to protect a service member there can be no ruling that prejudices them based on the potential. Mandatory relocation from being in the military. So in the military, we call that A P C S. Right. And that's a permanent change of station. Mm-hmm. Obviously, I think, obviously everybody knows that as a part of military service.

They just pick you up and move you whenever they're ready, you get orders, you're gone. Right. So the important part about PCs is the P permanent change of station. Mm-hmm. Obviously then you are taking in a relocation case, right? And then you're walking the relocation factors and the best interest factors, and [00:17:00] that's, that's straightforward.


[00:17:03] Billie Tarascio: is the court allowed to enter an order limiting parenting time? You know, if you're forced to 

[00:17:08] Matt Randle: move, Yeah, I mean, it, it, it's, it's the same as any relocation case. And, and then you need to decide, right, based on legal decision making and the factors and relocation, are we talking about a mandatory temporary relocation?

Cuz you have sole and primary, right? So all that stuff accounts, but the sort of short answer is if it's a permanent change of station, you have a relocation case straight away. Where it gets complex is if somebody is, and, and these are two very different things. If somebody is deployed, so we are sent for a period of time to another location for the purposes of a specific mission.

Yeah. And, and the, the parenting plan statutes in Arizona are very, very clear that the court shall enter temporary orders consistent with the [00:18:00] children's best interests, but cannot enter permanent modifications. Because somebody, because sometimes deployments are a year or two years and, and, and Arizona's outright delineated that you cannot permanently modify a parenting plan or legal decision making because somebody is deployed.

The other sort of method that the military uses something called t D y Short for temporary duty. And those are, are traditionally sort of short burst, Hey, we're sending you to location X for the purposes of a very specific training, or a very specific practice of something, and then you'll be right back here.

And again, the statute's very clear that that cannot be prejudiced against you, but T D Y generally has a definitive return date. [00:19:00] And so the idea that you could walk in on temporary orders when, when you're more likely than not dealing with 30 to 45 days is inaccurate. Right? Certainly the court prefers that parents co-parent, and we're not uprooting kids as a result of, you know, I mean, it's the same as anybody's spouse that the company says, Hey, we're gonna sh ship you to the other side of the country to help manage, you know, the factory over there for 30 days.

That's not grounds for a modification. It's not a significant change of circumstances, and the statute just makes really, really clear in the case of the military stuff, what that looks like. 

[00:19:40] Billie Tarascio: So would the military member be able to allocate their parenting time to whomever they wanted to? 

[00:19:50] Matt Randle: So yes.

On deployment or T d y know [00:20:00] if it's a permanent change of station because again, a PCs is an outright relocation. Right. But if we're talking about a temporary duty assignment or deployment, they absolutely have the right, and it's, it's specifically outlined in the statutes that that's, that's the case.

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

[00:20:19] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Let's see 

[00:20:21] Matt Randle: what other, Billie, Billie, let me add a point to that. The statute is really, really clear that delegation of time mm-hmm. Does not equate to a delegation of legal decision making. You are not, if, if you say, Hey, I'm going for 30 days or six months. And my new spouse is gonna be with the kids on my parenting time.

Right. Stepmom is right. Just not a newer stepmom with legal decision making in any way, and she cannot acquire that. Right. That's really 

[00:20:49] Billie Tarascio: important. I'm glad you mentioned that. Yeah. Yeah. But the, there's a lot of parents that are upset that, you know, dad in that case can allocate that time to stepmom 

[00:20:59] Matt Randle: and, [00:21:00] and I mean, upset, fine, but that the statute makes very, very clear that.

Particularly in these instances, at best, you're dealing with a temporary modification. Yeah. And that, and so it just, it isn't grounds. 

[00:21:13] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. And I, I think the issue is that the courts are trying to protect a service member's relationship with their family and their child. And if you rip that away, especially, you know, at pivotal times with high conflict relationships, it can have a.

Hugely detrimental, long-term lasting effect. 

[00:21:35] Matt Randle: No, a hundred percent. And certainly we wanna assign the courts the best of intentions, but the reality is, and and somewhere that I'm sure we're going is that there is very, very specific federal law, and it's called S C R A, it's the service Member Civil Relief Act.

Mm-hmm. That just makes clear. [00:22:00] That service members can't be prejudiced. And and the most common application of S E R A in the family law realm is that if you are deployed mm-hmm. And incapable of participating meaningfully in your own, your own law. Right. Then they can't proceed in your absence. Right?

Yeah. We just freeze now. It's active duty, so Army, air Force, Navy, Marines, coast Guard, and now Space Force. Anybody in the National Guard who is activated for 30 days or more mm-hmm. Then falls under S C R A. And weirdly, public Health Services and the National Oceanographic Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

And if you have one of those, call me cuz I've never seen one. But there are some [00:23:00] very specific requirements about how you execute an S E R A. Freeze. We don't need to get into it in depth, but essentially you filed a motion and it has to be supported by a letter from the service member's command that says, not only is it not possible, but we're not going to make the accommodation.

So I, I had an instance where it was a Navy guy. And they were on a ship somewhere outside of Portugal as the nearest port, and they didn't have the appropriate internet bandwidth to participate remotely. And the commander wasn't gonna send him to the land so that he could have a Divorce hearing. And so we filed and the court then has to stay at, I believe it's 90 days off the top of my head.

And. Then they have to revisit the issue essentially at a static status conference. And you, you can, then you don't need an additional [00:24:00] letter. Well, some judges may require it, but then you just say, Hey, we're, we're still there. And they just continue freezing it. And really importantly, they are allotted a minimum of 30 days upon their return before anything can start, so that they have due process access to counsel or to prepare themselves.

[00:24:20] Billie Tarascio: This all seems very reasonable. And if you couple that with the support protections that the spouses who are left behind have, your Divorce might 

[00:24:30] Matt Randle: take longer. 

[00:24:32] Military Divorce Pitfalls and Solutions: Absolutely. 

[00:24:32] Billie Tarascio: But everybody's interest should be considered. Do you see? Is that how it plays out? 

[00:24:38] Matt Randle: Yeah, generally. I, I would warn the, the non-service member, spouse and or counsel that.

At lease this to family support you have every right and there is legal basis to assert until temporary orders. Here's your regulation. You must, [00:25:00] but again, as is the overarching principle in this issue if they tell you no. The only recourse you really have is to go higher up the command chain. Hmm.

And ideally somebody listens, but the Superior Court can't call somebody's commander and say, do it or else, because it's a federal entity. So there's, there's actually no authority on the state end of things, but I, I don't know, I think maybe once or twice in my almost decade practicing. With a super fine focus on this stuff.

Have I ever had an immediate chain of command say, yeah, right. Too bad. You know Sergeant Snuffy is is our favorite guy. We're not gonna do this to him. And then I just called the next chain of command and said, do you know what these guys are doing? And the good news is in the military it always rolls downhill.

So people are not big fans of getting complaints at the top cuz it ends [00:26:00] up at the bottom. So, The other thing I really wanted to touch on in this discussion is orders of protection. Always a problem for the service member. Yes, always. But especially if the court checks the magic box about the Brady bill.

Right, right. Because assumptively part and parcel with anybody's military services, the need to have access to firearms. Right. And if the court says, turn 'em over, it doesn't apply to your private firearms. You can't have any firearms under any circumstances, and because that is a result of federal statute, the military must comply.

And so, It's twofold here. Obviously in a DV case, if, if you have a, a, a legitimate basis to say, this person is going to harm somebody, if they have access to firearms, please do not hesitate. Right? People's safety [00:27:00] and, and the safety of the children involved absolutely paramount. But if you actually don't know or you have a way to ensure your safety otherwise, If somebody checks that Brady box, the the end result is the service member's gone.

They're getting kicked out of the service and then, Right, wrong or indifferent, that affects your entitlement to retirement. That affects your entitlement to support the basis for the income stuff. Now, again, if we're diving deep, you can always assert as a matter of income attribution that they did this to themselves, they were capable, and so you should still, but in any event, the the immediate concern is if, if we check the Brady Bill box, we're it, it's a death kiss.

And that has broad impact and, [00:28:00] and certain repercussions that people need to measure. But I, I always caveat that with, if it is a genuine matter of safety, who cares? 

[00:28:10] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. So cases involving domestic violence are always, always complicated, always hard, and the stakes go up even higher, and it gets even more complicated with a service member.

If somebody finds themself in that position on either end, what do you suggest they do to get help navigating these very difficult decisions? 

[00:28:34] Matt Randle: Sure. So first of all, if we're dealing with a, a victim of domestic violence, the first thing that, and, and it's one of the things that the, the military does very, very well.

There are incredible resources on base and mental health resources on base available at no cost to either the spouse or the service member that can intervene, that have access to chains of command. And [00:29:00] frankly, within the military community, if these mental health services get involved, I mean, everybody's on notice, everybody's scrambling.

They have a significant authority and impact beyond that which normally exists. A amongst, you know, the hierarchy of, of folks. 

[00:29:21] Billie Tarascio: I wanna take a minute and talk about that. So what I hear you saying is there are mechanisms available to service member victims and people who may have been involved in an incident that are not, they're outside of family court that may be more comprehensive, more effective, more available and not really involve the family 

[00:29:42] Matt Randle: court.

Yeah, absolutely. And, and. This is gonna be experiential, not factual, but I'm, I'm super open about the fact that as a result of my combat service, I've been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. And it is obviously a very common right. And I mean, I, I [00:30:00] tell people it was never uncommon. It's just now talked about and recognized.

Yeah. But my experience and I helped start one of the veteran treatment courts here in Tucson when I was in law school. The normative domestic violence case, the perpetrator is looking to exert control. Right. That that is pretty resoundingly agreed upon. Mm-hmm. If we are dealing with somebody who is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic depression, anxiety, all those things that are tangentially connected to that, oftentimes we are not dealing with somebody who is trying to exert power and control over the other party.

Oftentimes what we are dealing with is, is somebody who doesn't have control of themselves, right? So it's not intended to reach out. It's, I can't control within. And so when you are making the tough. Decision about how you want to move forward, [00:31:00] what remedy you have immediately. I think it important to consider what the root cause is.

Now, sometimes you just don't know. But if you are aware, and, and this is gonna cross into also issues of, of drug and alcohol issues, right? Because right, it is very common, the military Normalizes significant alcohol consumption as a Oh yeah. At, at at least as a generalization. Absolutely. And that has for many folks, become the go-to coping mechanism with mental health challenges.

Mm-hmm. And again, you want to talk about resources. Each branch has some really capable, free resources. For the service member and the spouses that are specific to [00:32:00] substance abuse. Now, again, we're gonna sort of go off on a tangent remembering that even in the case of marijuana, which is in most states legal now mm-hmm.


[00:32:13] Military Divorce Pitfalls and Solutions: has 

[00:32:14] Matt Randle: no such understanding. Right? So if we're talking about alcohol abuse, Go get help in the military. If we're talking about substance abuse and the service member gets caught or is even suspected, we're talking about the end of somebody's career at worst. And at best, the kind of punishment that involves, or reduction in rank, which is a reduction in pay or what a lot of people don't know is when you have non-judicial punishment in the military.

One of the things that they can do is take away half a month's, pay for two months at a maximum. Wow. Yeah. So I mean, it would be like your boss finding out you got a D U I and saying, I'm gonna pay you half of [00:33:00] minimum wage for the next two months because of it. Right. And so again, as always, in this area, you are dealing with two or three sets of rules.

Between the family court, the military, and then more, you know, the va, whoever's involved, and none of them talk to each other. So you, you really do have to be aware. Now, we've been talking a lot about the active duty service member for the veteran community. The VA has more resources than you could shake a stick at, and it's everything from mental health, substance abuse, anger management, medical all of it.

And. For every service member that gets out for the first year, they have unbridled access to all of it. And then after a year, if they have been found service connected for any disability, And they are braided below 50%. [00:34:00] They have unbridled access to the treatment necessary for the things they are service connected for.

As soon as this veteran is found to be 50% disabled or more, they get unbridled access forever. And so the, the disability rating system within the VA is not just part and parcel with how much money you get every month, but. I mean for me personally, right? My family through my business has health insurance, but like all health insurance, there are copays and deductibles and those, generally speaking are not small.

And so when I can, and any time I need medical care, I go through the VA cuz it doesn't cost my family or I anything. And that's from prescriptions like ibuprofen, all the way to surgery and significant medical intervention. And so now folks often weigh that against the quality of the medical care 

[00:34:58] Billie Tarascio: or the availability.

Like, [00:35:00] 

[00:35:00] Matt Randle: well, it is interesting you say that because there was some really significant legislation. It's called the Choice Act. Mm-hmm. That God bless him, John McCain put into effect on behalf of the whole of the country, but certainly Arizona. Mm-hmm. That says, if you have. Any diagnoses or, you know, there's a recommendation from your primary care provider, something like that, for a specific service, test treatment.

And the VA cannot get you that treatment or test or whatever it is within 30 days. Wow. They must send you to an outside service provider at their cost. Oh, my 

[00:35:46] Billie Tarascio: 30 days is not that 

[00:35:47] Matt Randle: long. No, no. And the, the real beauty of it is that the VA sort of hides that availability. Sure. But [00:36:00] as soon as you say Choice act, they know.

Yeah. And so, you know my son who just got out of the military cuz he didn't listen to me. Yeah. Was having some issues with his gallbladder upon release from, from the Army, and they just don't have that many GI doctors available and so he didn't know, but dad's there and I said, you can't get 'em in for this specialty scan choice Act.

And they immediately had availability within the hospital to squeeze him in. Interesting. Yeah. So there are. I mean, I, I guess in short, and let's talk about VA healthcare for the non-veteran, if the veteran is a hundred percent disabled, and, and there's two kinds of, a hundred percent because nothing's easy.

Oh, there's just straight a hundred percent, and then there's something called a hundred percent permanent in total, because at [00:37:00] any time, if you are not permanent in total, The VA can sort of do an audit of you, your medical records and necessarily reduce or increase your retirement benefit or your disability benefit, as they say see fit.

And surprise, surprise, it generally follows the country's economic conditions. Mm-hmm. But if you're a hundred percent permanent in total, they can never modify that. And then you can seek. Essentially the same as tricare, it's called Champ VA for your dependents and your spouse. Mm. So when we start digging into spousal maintenance and you start having to look at factors like the availability of insurance, right?

The, the spouse is going to lose what is otherwise cost free healthcare. If that veteran has champ va, just like they would if the retired service member has tricare [00:38:00] The other sort of footnotes. As a general rule, the VA does not do dental. They do vision, but they don't do dental. But the VA does have dental.

You just either have to have a direct service connected injury to your teeth and then part and parcel like anything else, that, that injury is connected to care. So you have access to VA dental or. If you're a hundred percent permanent in total, then you can access VA dental. And again, like anything else, VA medicine I mean, I hate to be blase about it, but you get what you pay for.

And, and the Choice Act still applies. So if the very limited VA dental is not available, or they don't do a sort of procedure that you need, they're mandated to send you to an outside provider. Footnote on that. They have contracted providers that they will try to funnel you [00:39:00] to. You don't have to take that.

You can say, no, I found Dr. Smith. And he's renowned at elbow surgery, and that's what I'm going for. And they, and they have to accommodate. Matt, thank you 

[00:39:14] Billie Tarascio: so much for this, for all this information. You have been a tremendous resource. Matt taught my firm about military Divorce. I still would recommend that anything complex go to Matt.

Absolutely. You've heard him. You know why? I know Why? How do people get ahold of 

[00:39:33] Matt Randle: you? So the email, Matt, cuz the firm is Randall Palmer and Bernas. And then Tucson, t u c s o The phone number here, (520) 327-1409. We've got Facebook, we've got Instagram, like everybody should. And you can always reach out to us.

There's direct contact through our website, [00:40:00] And, and certainly Billie knows how to get ahold of me. And, and the resources that I have, the materials that I use to teach CLEs. And certainly if somebody wants me to come in and, and, and teach their, their firm or their partners this sort of information, I do it no problem.

And Billie can attest. The only thing I ever have asked for is that you make a donation to a, a nonprofit that I'm on the board for. I don't want to, to benefit from this personally, cuz at the end of the day, the veteran and service members, we, we call each other brothers and sisters for a reason and I, I, I take seriously the obligation that whether it's opposing party or not, I.

Where I can smooth out this process by making people aware of the rules and facilitating the smoothest possible process in Divorce or fraternity or whatever litigation is at stake in the family courts. Really that's beneficial to everyone involved. But I'm happy to teach this, and if all you want to do is reach out to me, I have a really [00:41:00] concise, really concise, it's like 50 page PowerPoint presentation that, that I created that I would be more than happy to send out at no cost.

You know, I've taught judges and, and there's all sorts of, sort of tangential materials about S C R A specifically and, and things of that nature. But you want it, reach out to me. I'll send it. 

[00:41:20] Billie Tarascio: Wonderful. Thank you so much for your time today. If you have enjoyed this episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, make sure to like it, rank it, review it, download it, send it on, and if you know other people who'd make a great guest, let us know.

Thank you so much, Matt, and have an amazing day. Thanks, Billie. 

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