How are military pensions handled in divorce?

| Jul 13, 2020 | divorce, family law, military family law

For many couples, dividing retirement accounts can be one of the most stressful aspects of divorce. After all, your future financial health often depends on this savings. Dividing retirement savings for military spouses involves an additional challenge: dividing military pensions.

Under the USFSPA, the military must accept states’ ruling in divorces.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), state courts have the right to distribute military pensions and outlines enforcement for these orders through the Department of Defense.

Under the USFSPA, the court can address military pensions as marital property and divide it equitably under state law. It is important to remember, though, that the military will enforce the court’s decision only if a divorcing couple meets certain requirements. These factors include:

  • When not deployed, the service member must live in the area of the court’s jurisdiction
  • The service member must have claim the court’s jurisdiction as their legal place of residence
  • The service member consents to the court’s jurisdiction over their case

Because of these requirements, the court that has jurisdiction will use their own state law based on the couple’s place of residence. Under Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois law, this means that pensions will be divided along with the couple’s other retirement savings in a way that the court views as equitable or fair.

Under the 10/10 requirement, the government can pay former spouses directly.

Military pensions are subject to division regardless of the length of a couple’s marriage. However, the USFSPA allows former spouses to receive their portion of pension benefits directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). To qualify, the marriage must have lasted for 10 or more years, and the service member must have performed at least 10 years of military service during the marriage. Former spouses of service members whose marriages do not meet these requirements will receive their portion of pension benefits from the service member instead of DFAS.

For many military service members and their spouses, it is important to work with an attorney that has experience in military divorces. They can help you navigate the complexities of property division and help you end your marriage with a stronger financial future.