Dividing a Military Pension in Divorce

Members of the military and their spouses face unique challenges and opportunities in divorce. One of the chief questions many divorcing military spouses have is “How will military pension be divided?”

If you are a member of the military, a veteran, or a spouse of a military member or veteran, this concerns you. In the event that you and your spouse decide to part ways, your divorce will have unique characteristics different from the average divorce. One of those unique characteristics is military pension / retirement.

In 1981, a federal law was passed to protect service members and their spouses from unfair division of military pension. That law is detailed in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, Title 10 of the U.S. Code, Section 1408. It accomplishes two main things:

  1. Defines military pension as a marital asset which could be divided by state family courts
  2. Allows former spouses of military members to carry out retirement money as a property award by claiming payments directly from the military member’s retirement pay.

While this 1981 law does allow some former spouses of military members to collect some military pension, it does not automatically entitle them to it. Like any other type of marital property, it is up to the family law court to decide how that shared property will be divided fairly.

If a former spouse of a military member does qualify for direct payments under the USFSPA, there are additional steps they must take to ensure that they get those direct payments, such as filling out and submitting a DD Form 2293.

The total amount that a former spouse can receive of the military pension depends on the court’s decision, but the maximum amount he or she can be awarded is 50 percent of the military member’s disposable income. Retired payments to the former spouse of a military member last only as long as the military member is alive. If the former spouse dies, the payments must stop.

If you have more questions about dividing military retirement during a divorce, we invite you to contact the military divorce lawyers at Robert Sparks Attorneys in Tampa.