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Calculating the distribution of a military retirement in divorce

When a military servicemember and his or her spouse get a divorce, the spouse will have the right to receive a share of the servicemember's retirement benefits in many cases. As such, most servicemembers and their spouses will want to gain a deeper understanding of how the benefits will be divided if they are considering going through a divorce.

However, there are three methods that courts use to calculate the division of retirement benefits. The document the spouses file with the court must state which of these formulas is to be used. The division will also take into account the length of time the couple was married.

Here are the three ways that courts can divide military retirement pensions:

-- Net Present Value: This way of dividing a retirement pension involves an upfront buyout in which the servicemember provides his or her spouse with a lump sum amount of money that represents the percentage of the pension that is owed.

-- Deferred Distribution: Deferred distribution involves the calculation of the spouse's share at the time of the divorce; however, the receiving the funds will be delayed until the retirement of the servicemember.

-- Reserve Jurisdiction: This method of division is the most common and it involves calculating the spouse's share at the time of retirement.

Military spouses considering divorce will want to estimate what their retirement benefits division will look like. Visiting a Tennessee divorce lawyer who has substantial experience in military divorces is an excellent way to evaluate your legal rights and options as they pertain to yourself and your spouse in your divorce proceedings.

Source:, "Understanding Divorce in the Military," accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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