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What You Need to Know About Military Divorce

In the United States, divorce is unfortunately a very common event. According to the American Psychological Association, “about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce.” For second and subsequent marriages, the chance of divorce is even higher.

Arguably, military marriages are often more difficult than civilian marriages. Frequent moves, and regular deployments place a great deal of strain on married couples, especially young couples with small children.

Legally, a military divorce is not much different than a traditional divorce, so there are few procedural differences. However, if you or your spouse is in the military, there will be some additional factors to take into consideration as you proceed with your divorce.

If you or your spouse are on active duty in a different state or overseas, the residency requirements will be more flexible. If you or your spouse are permanently stationed overseas, that spouse will be given more time to receive notice and respond to the divorce.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act can play a role in military divorces. Under the USFSPA, military members accept their state statutes regarding child support, spousal support, and the military retirement pension.

What About Military Pay/Pension?

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service is the agency responsible for making direct retirement payments for military personnel. Can an ex-spouse receive direct retirement payments? It depends.

In order for an ex-husband or ex-wife to receive direct retirement payments, they must have been married to their military spouse for at least 10 years, and the marriage must have overlapped at least 10 years of service.

For example, if you were married to your spouse for 11 years and you were in the service for 5 of those years, your spouse would likely not be entitled to direct payments from the DFAS. On the other hand, if you were married for 15 years and you were in the service for 10 of those years, your spouse would likely be entitled to direct payments from the DFAS.

If a spouse does not qualify for the DFAS direct pay, it does not necessarily mean the nonmilitary spouse is not entitled for a portion of the payment. In order for a non-military spouse to receive a portion of the payment, it would need to be outlined in the couple’s marital settlement agreement or final decree of divorce.

Under some circumstances, an award of retired military pay may be in addition to child support or spousal support depending on the facts of the case.

Can a former spouse receive all of the retired military pay? No, typically an ex-spouse cannot receive more than 50 percent of the military retirement pay.

Going through a military divorce in Katy? To learn more about the thrift savings plan, the Survivor Benefits Plan, TRICARE, base privileges, and other aspects of a military divorce, contact us today.