A military pension is a form of deferred compensation. Military service members receive a lifelong pension after completing 20 years of service. Service members’ military pensions are valuable assets in a divorce. A military pension is divisible in a divorce so long as the court has jurisdiction over the proceeding. Read on to learn more about dividing military pensions in divorce.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) governs the terms and conditions of dividing military pensions in divorce. The USFSPA allows state courts to choose how or whether to divide military retirement funds upon a divorce, legal separation, or an annulment.

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When dividing military pensions in divorce, the court must obtain the consent of the spouse before doing so. Consent does not have to be expressed verbally. Consent can be reasonably assumed. The pension can be divided regardless of the length of the marriage.

Since California is a community property state, the rule of thumb when dividing military pensions in divorce is that the pension will be divided equally. In addition to being compensated through the define benefit plan, the retired service member may also receive disability benefits and participate in a survivor annuity program. Additional monetary benefits include access to exchange and commissary privileges and child care.

Under the USFSPA, the military will not pay (the Defense Finance and Accounting Service) any part of a member’s retirement to a spouse unless they were married for at least 10 years while the member was on active duty. If a spouse was married for at least 10 years, and the service member retires after serving 20 years, a spouse may receive half of the retirement benefit. This is important to keep in mind when considering dividing military pensions in divorce and equalizing the division of other community assets. Nevertheless, a California court may find that part of the retirement earned during the marriage can be divided if it is deemed community property and the marriage was less than 10 years. Once the divided pension amount is decided, the non-payee spouse can choose to receive a lump sum payment or other community property assets as an alternative to a division of the military pension.

Make sure all issues regarding dividing military pensions in divorce are addressed before the final judgment of dissolution is entered. If you wait until the divorce is finalized, you may jeopardize your opportunity to get part of the military pension.

Contact A People’s Choice for more information about dividing military pensions in divorce. We can help you file for divorce and complete the legal documents you need to divide a military pension. As a divorcing military spouse, you will need to ask your spouse about the pension and its value. You may need to serve subpoenas to get information if your spouse is not honest about the pension’s value. We can help you draft and file the paperwork you need to receive your fair share of the pension. Contact us at 800-747-2780 to find out more information.

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