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How divorce affects military retirement accounts

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2022 | Military Divorce |

The relocations, the lengthy periods apart and the arguments were factors that led you to pursue the divorce of your spouse, a longtime member of the U.S. military. Among your concerns are whether you can secure a portion of your spouse’s military pension. You can.

You must first understand that a military member qualifies for pension only after having been in the service for at least 20 years. You also must understand that this pension represents a valuable amount of money in military divorce.

Receiving your fair share

Military retirement pay is treated as marital property. The amount accumulated during the time of the marriage is marital property, and a divorcing spouse has the right to his or her fair portion of it.

This issue is among many addressed in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA). Enacted in 1982, this federal law provides financial protection to former spouses of military members, allowing them to receive their share of retirement pay. The act gives state courts the authority to distribute military pensions to a former spouse.

A former spouse is guaranteed at least a portion of the military pension. If the marriage was a long-term one that overlapped with a lengthy time in the military service, that former spouse may receive up to 50% of the military pension.

However, even if the marriage lasted a much shorter amount of time – even less than a year – you may receive a share.

10/10 rule governs method of payment

Another part of the USFSPA includes the 10/10 rule, which governs the method of payment to the former spouse

Under the 10/10 rule, if your marriage to a military service member lasted at least 10 years and your spouse or retired spouse served a minimum of 10 years, then you may receive direct payment of those retirement benefits from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), an organization that provides payments for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Securing the retirement pay

Divorce represents a difficult time in anyone’s life. Among the worries you may have include those related to finances. As the soon-to-be former spouse of a military member, you will receive a portion of his or her retirement pay.