Divorce proceedings are conducted by state courts and they can divide military pensions. The federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) allows (but does not mandate) state courts divide military retirement pensions upon divorce, legal separation or annulment.
How much of the pension gets divided?
The share of a pension to the non-military spouse could be as low as nothing or as high as half.
- The non-military spouse might get 50 percent of the pension only if the marriage lasted the service member’s entire military career.
- If the marriage lasted for part of the military career, the pension division will probably be prorated to reflect the time the spouse served in the military.
How an ex-spouse gets paid?
The USFSPA has a 10/10 Rule which states that if the couple was married for ten or more years while a spouse performed at least ten years of service, the government will make payments directly to the ex-spouse. If this rule doesn’t apply, but the non-military spouse is awarded a portion of the pension payments, the service member gets paid the entire amount but will be obligated to the correct portion to the ex-spouse. Another way to get paid is to have an actuary evaluate the military spouse’s pension to determine its current cash value. The military spouse would then give the other spouse an equivalent value in cash or non-marital property, leaving the military spouse with exclusive rights to the pension.