Division of Retirement Pay and Pensions in Military Divorce

by Norris Law Group on October 8, 2014

Division of Retirement Pay  and Pensions in Military DivorceIn previous blogs, we have covered the rights of men and women who divorce spouses in the military under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) and the rights of service members who divorce as outlined in the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This blog will examine how and why military retirement pay and pensions are divided as they are among qualifying ex-spouses, according to Military.com.

If and when military retirement benefits are awarded to ex-spouses of military personnel, the funds are directly sent to the recipient by Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). Military retirement benefits may only be awarded to an ex-spouse if the marriage meets the “10/10 Rule:” the marriage lasted for at least 10 years and overlapped with at least 10 years of service. For example, if one spouse was in the military for seven years of a twelve-year marriage, the other spouse would not be entitled to direct payments from DFAS. But if a couple is married for fourteen years and one spouse served in the military for at least ten of those years, the other spouse would be entitled to a direct payment from DFAS in the event of a divorce, because the criteria of the 10/10 Rule would have been met.

Not meeting the qualification for DFAS direct pay does not necessarily mean a former military spouse is not eligible to receive a portion of the service member’s retirement payment. Retirement benefits could be included in a final divorce settlement. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) may provide an extra layer of protection for former military spouses whose marriages may not meet the criteria of the 10/10 Rule. Additionally, military retired pay may be awarded on top of any child support or spousal maintenance. An ex-spouse may receive up to 50% of a service member’s retirement pay.

When an order is received by DFAS, payments should be received within three months (90 days) if the military ex-spouse is already receiving his or her pension. If the military member is still on active duty, payments will begin 90 days after the newly retired member is eligible for his or her first retirement payment. In the event that child support is taken from the pension funds, the maximum combined deductible amount that is 65%.

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 fully qualified to draft QDRO’s. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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