During a military divorce, there is the potential that the military pension will need to be divided. A service member’s pension may be one of the most valuable assets to consider during a divorce, which is why it’s important to treat it appropriately.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is in place to help protect those who used to be married to service members when they meet a qualifying status. It’s possible to receive a portion of a spouse’s pension regardless of the length of the marriage, as most states treat this kind of pension as community property.
The Department of Defense’s rules
The Department of Defense won’t make direct payments of the pension unless the person’s ex-spouse was married to the service member for at least 10 years that overlapped military service. Those direct payments can also be no more than 50% of the retired pay with an exception for cases of alimony or child support, in which case it may be up to 65%.
Dividing a military pension is possible earlier despite the 10-10 rule. The difference is that a state court must order the division of the retirement account and that the DOD won’t directly deposit that amount into the former spouse’s bank account in the future.
What can you do to protect your military pension?
If you are a military member and would like to protect your pension, you have options. One that works well for some people is to “buy out” their spouse by offering a larger share of assets or cash. For those who need liquid assets at the time of the divorce, this could work well, since a spouse may be more likely to accept those assets and understand that they are forfeiting a share of the retirement account.
Divorcing while in the military? Protect yourself and your interests
This is one option to protect a military pension, but there are others. If you’re divorcing and have to consider military benefits, it’s a good idea to get more legal support to understand your rights and to be sure that you have the best chance at an agreeable outcome.