Dividing military benefits is a crucial issue in military divorces.
What Happens to Military Benefits After Divorce?
Under the Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA), state courts can divide military pension benefits just as they divide other property in divorce. Changes to the USFSPA in 2017 now allow state courts to divide retirement pensions equally using the value of the pension at the time the service member retired from the military. Any benefits to be paid to the former spouse of the service member are frozen from the date the marriage is dissolved. The portion they are eligible to receive depends on the length of time their spouse was in service, and their military ranking during the marriage.
It is important to note that the USFSPA does not guarantee that a former spouse will receive any military benefits. It simply provides a way for state courts to divide these benefits in the same manner they would any other property.
Negotiation is Key
No one wants to lose part of their pension during divorce. Like other property division matters, it is possible to negotiate the division. This means a military spouse could offer to relinquish other property during the divorce process in order to keep their pension intact. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, the matter will go to court and the pension will be subject to the equitable distribution laws of the state.
The 10/10 Rule
It is a common misconception that former spouses can only receive a portion of the military pension if they were married for at least ten years. While there is a rule known as the 10/10 rule, it only determines the source of payment, not the amount of pension a former spouse will receive. Under the 10/10 rule, a former spouse can receive benefits if they were married for a minimum of ten years and the service member was in the military for at least ten years. The timeframes used must also overlap each other.
Other Military Benefits
Aside from a pension, there are other military benefits former spouses can receive after divorce, too. Under the 20/20 rule, a former spouse may be entitled to medical benefits if they were married for at least 20 years. The military spouse must have served for at least 20 years while still married. When a couple was married for less than 20 years, but more than 15, they may be entitled to just one year of transitional benefits. These can also be suspended if the non-military spouse gets remarried or receives medical benefit from their employer.
Our Family Lawyers in Charleston Can Protect Your Rights
Whether you are pursuing part of your military spouse’s pension, or you want to keep all of your benefits after divorce, our Charleston family lawyers can help. At The Peck Law Firm, our skilled attorneys have extensive experience with military divorces, and we will put it to work for you. Call us at 843-631-7117 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.