Ex-military spouses have the right to receive a portion of their ex-spouse’s retirement benefits. This right is protected by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), which was enacted in 1982 by Congress. The law permits state courts to treat military retired pay as retirement benefits that are a part of the marital estate, and therefore, divisible in accordance with state property division laws.
The Department of Defense (DOD) can also order the division of military retired pay if the ex-spouse of the military servicemember can prove that his or her marriage to the servicemember overlapped at least 10 years of the servicemember’s military service. In cases where there was less than 10 years of overlap, however, the state court can still divide the military retired pay as it deems to be appropriate given the facts and circumstances surrounding the marriage and divorce.
In cases where the ex-spouse was married to the servicemember for an overlap period of 20 years, the spouse can also receive some important military benefits, like access to military medical care, exchanges and commissaries. If there was at least a 15-year period of marital overlap, the ex-spouse can receive one year of such benefits following divorce. Medical benefits, however, will be suspended if the ex-spouse receives health coverage via an employer-sponsored health plan. The medical benefits also terminate when the spouse remarries.
Are you a soon-to-be ex-spouse of a military servicemember? Do you want to know what you’re entitled to receive your divorce? Learn more about military divorce and your legal rights and options by visiting our military divorce webpage.