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The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, Retirement Pay and Military Divorce

by Norris Law Group on October 6, 2014

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, Retirement Pay and Military DivorceMilitary divorce carries with it a number of unique situations. One primary concern—particularly for the spouses of military personnel who may not be in the military themselves—may be retirement pay and how it may be distributed in a divorce. Military.com offers some information on some protections available for military spouses.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) was established to clarify the rights of former military spouses. According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (a division of the US Department of Defense), the “Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), 10 U.S.C. 1408, accomplishes two things:

  1. It recognizes the right of state courts to distribute military retired pay to a spouse or former spouse (hereafter, the former spouse), and
  2. It provides a method of enforcing these orders through the Department of Defense.”

The USFSPA does not, however, guarantee that former military spouses will receive a portion of a service member’s retirement pay. But it does allow local courts to view military retirement pay as marital property in the same way they would view a civilian retirement plan. This makes the retirement plan eligible to be split between the spouses in the event of a divorce.

As in a civilian divorce, any military retirement pay awarded to a former military spouse must be included as part of a final divorce order. As an extra measure of caution, a spouse divorcing a member of the military may wish to include a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, as part of his or her divorce proceedings. Only an attorney with very specialized knowledge can draft a QDRO.

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

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