How is a military pension handled in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Military Divorce, Military Law |

In Georgia, there are many members and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces. While they are serving their country, they experience similar challenges as civilians do. That includes family problems that lead to divorce.

Just like any divorce, there are common denominators with issues that are commonly in dispute. A military pension is often at the forefront. From the perspective of the service member, they will want to keep as much of their pension as possible. For the non-military spouse, they will inevitably believe they are entitled to a portion of the pension.

There are rules for military pensions

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act – shortened to USFSPA – is in place to let state courts determine how to divide a military pension. It can decide it belongs to the former service member or belongs to both and will be divided as such.

There is a rule in place called the 10/10 requirement that is connected to retired pay, but this is frequently misunderstood as part of a divorce case. If the non-service member spouse was married to the service member for 10 years while they were in the military, they meet the criteria. However, it only applies to the payments coming directly out of the pension based on USFSPA. In other words, the states can still award a part of the pension to the non-service member and the 10/10 rule is irrelevant.

If the direct payments are to be made, it cannot go beyond 50% or 65% if it there is also alimony and child support. While the military has regulations in place regarding pensions, Georgia uses an equitable distribution model for property division and that could be considered in the case. Unlike states that view all property that was accrued after a couple was married as belonging to both, equitable distribution strives for fairness.

Know the facts about a military divorce

Divorce is difficult emotionally, personally and financially. Often, the people who are going through the process have preconceived notions as to what they are entitled to and what can happen. Before making mistakes based on presumptions, it is essential to be fully prepared for the future.

Military members, retirees and their spouses sacrifice a great deal as part of their service. Going through a divorce is difficult on them as they will wonder about how the pension will be impacted. Knowing about the USFSPA and state laws is key in a military divorce and people should understand what they are facing from the outset.