Q. My husband is career military. Depending on where we live, his housing allowance fluctuates. Most recently we have been living in the same town as my brother and in Massachusetts his allowance is really high. My brother’s kids are all grown and out of the house, so he moved in with his girlfriend and has allowed us to live in his house rent-free. So, all of the housing allowance has been put aside in a separate savings account.
We have been married for 19 years – we have been talking about divorcing. Our 20-year anniversary is on Jan. 1. I am afraid he will file before our 20th anniversary to avoid paying full alimony. Is there anything I can do to prevent him from filing before then?
If we do get divorced, he said the housing allowance is either an asset or income, but it isn’t both – he says that is double dipping. I think it is both. Who is right?
A. You cannot prevent him from filing for divorce before your 20th anniversary. But, if you want to try to slow his roll, if you continue to talk about divorce, you can suggest mediation. Generally, when people mediate, the process takes 2-3 months or more which gets you close to the 20-year anniversary date.
The other thing you get at the 20-year mark if your husband is career military is lifetime health insurance. That is incredibly valuable so you should raise that issue as part of the discussions as to why you want to make it to the 20-year mark. Maybe you can make some sort of trade off to get you the lifetime health insurance if he pushes back on this. It costs him nothing to provide you with the health insurance benefit. You can try to calculate the difference in alimony if you are married for 19 years 11 months versus 20 years meaning he retires at normal retirement age as defined by Social Security.
His housing allowance is a regular part of his income and will be considered for child support and/ or alimony purposes. However, the money you have saved from his housing allowance is also an asset. In this example, it is not a double dip. If he doesn’t want to split it with you, remind him that, but for your brother’s generous offer, there would be no housing allowance savings.
Email questions to email@example.com