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Dividing retirement benefits in a military divorce

Military members dedicate their lives to serving their country. Because of their great service and sacrifices, the government offers certain benefits. During a military divorce, it can get confusing on who will receive what. It's important that both spouses in a divorce receive a fair share of these assets. 

Members of the military accumulate retirement benefits during their years of service. After 20 years of service, members are able receive those benefits when they retire. This poses as a unique situation when military spouses are going through a divorce.

Retirement in a military divorce is handled differently

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) makes all the direct retirement payments. Spouses can qualify for direct payments if the military marriage was 10 years or longer. In addition, those 10 years of marriage need to overlap the 10 years of military service.

To receive BX discounts and medical coverage, a military couple would have to be married for 20 years. Sometimes, ex-spouses do not qualify for DFAS direct payment, usually because the marriage was shorter than 10 years. However, ex-spouses might be eligible to receive a portion of the payment.

It's important to recognize that child support and/or alimony might be separate awards.

The amount can vary case to case

An ex-spouse can receive a maximum of 50 percent of a military ex-spouse's retirement pay. In some situations, child support is being deducted from the pension, so it could hit 65 percent. After an order is filed, it takes about three months for direct payments to begin.

The procedural process for military spouses is essentially the same as any divorce. However, there are some unique factors that might tweak the experience.

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