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Dividing A Military Pension In A Divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2023 | Divorce

When military couples decide to divorce, determining how the service member’s pension should be divided is often a matter that causes confusion. Louisiana is a community property state, which means all assets acquired during a marriage including retirement benefits must be divided equally in a divorce. However, there are other factors to consider in a military divorce, and many of them stem from a 1982 federal law called the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. This law allows former military spouses to deduct up to 65% of a retired service member’s pension benefits to cover child and spousal support obligations, and it also introduced what are known as the 10/10 and 20/20/20 rules.

The 10/10 And 20/20/20 Rules

The 10/10 rule allows former military spouses to receive their share of a retired service member’s pension benefits directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. However, former military spouses can only receive pension benefits directly if their former husband or wife served for at least 10 years, they were married for at least 10 years and the two periods overlap. The 20/20/20 rule entitles former military spouses to the same benefits as their former service member husbands or wives for the rest of their lives. To qualify for equal benefits after a military divorce, former military spouses must have been married for at least 20 years, their former husbands or wives must have served for at least 20 years and the two periods must overlap.

The Military Pension Lock

In 2017, the federal government introduced new rules that govern the ways military pensions are divided in a divorce. The new regulations lock a pension based on rank on the date of a divorce to prevent former military spouses from receiving benefits that they are not entitled to. If a divorced service member is promoted, their former spouse will receive pension payments based on the rank they held when they divorced and not their new rank.

Strict Rules And Regulations

The U.S. military has strict rules and regulations, which can actually make things simpler when a service member divorces. Former military spouses who were married for at least 10 years can receive pension payments directly from the DFAS, and former military spouses who were married for at least 20 years may receive benefits for life. However, the benefits they receive will be based on the rank their husband or wife held at the time of their divorce.