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The Service Member’s Rights in a Military Divorce

by Norris Law Group on October 7, 2014

The Service Member’s Rights in a Military DivorceMembers of the US military certainly have enough concerns and stressors day to day, particularly when deployed. Divorce can add even more stress into an already busy life. But members of the US military who are getting divorce do have some rights and protections provided to them by law. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (a unit of the US Department of Defense) outlines these protections.

The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the US Department of Justice, the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides guidance on many of the financial rights of members of the military, including servicemen and -women who seek divorce after December 19, 2003.

Per the SCRA, military retirement may be viewed as “property” and divided between spouses as “a fixed dollar amount or [as] a percentage of disposable retired pay (gross retired pay less allowable deductions).”

If a military couple divorces while one or both military spouses are on active duty, awards may be designated “by an acceptable formula or hypothetical retired pay award.”  Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), a portion of a service member’s retired pay will be “automatically construed as a percentage of disposable retired pay.” A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is not needed to divide retired pay between spouses as long as the former spouse’s award is included in the final divorce order, but a QDRO may help to answer any questions that may arise regarding the division of military retirement pay.

Furthermore, if the division of retired pay as property is enforceable under the USFSPA, the divorcing military couple must have been married to one another “for 10 years or more during which the member performed at least 10 years of military service creditable towards retirement eligibility (the 10/10 rule).”

Military divorces can bring with them a very special set of circumstances. A skilled attorney with experience in military divorce can help facilitate the process.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County, UT and throughout Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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