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What is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act?

Due to the nearby United States Army's Fort Campbell installation, the area around Clarksville, Tennessee, is home to many military families. Like civilian families, many couples in the military have marital issues, which can lead to divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is an act that provides benefits to the ex-spouses of service members.

According to the act, a state court is allowed to divide the disposable retirement pay of the military member between that member and the member's spouse. The decision to divide that property, however, rests with the state court. In some cases, a service member's former spouse is paid directly by the government. Other benefits may include medical care at military facilities and admittance to commissaries and exchanges. In some cases, the act entitles spouses or children who have been victims of abuse to certain benefits. A service member's former spouse may also obtain benefits under the Survivor Benefit Plan.

An important point to note here is that the act does not make it mandatory for a court to divide military retirement pay or establish a formula to determine the share of retirement pay that a former spouse should get. Additionally, the act does not put a limit on the proportion of the retired military pay that is to be paid to an ex-spouse. Also, the act does not make it mandatory to have an overlapping period of military service and marriage for the court to award a part of the retired pay to an ex-spouse.

The act does not permit a court to treat the military retirement pay as property jointly owned by husband and wife unless that court has jurisdiction over a service member going through a military divorce based on; the service member's domicile, the person's consent to a court's jurisdiction or that service member's residence, apart from military assignment.

Per the act, the government makes a direct payment to a former spouse if there are specific court orders that require payments to be made for a service member's retirement pay toward alimony, child support or as a part of marital property division. These payments, however, stop when the terms of the court order are fulfilled, after the service member's death or with the ex-spouse's death.

Source: MilitaryOneSource.mil, "Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act for Divorced Spouses in the Military," Accessed on July 28, 2014

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The Law Office of Steven C. Girsky
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Clarksville, TN 37040

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