Dividing retirement pay in a military divorce

On Behalf of | Aug 18, 2021 | Blog, Divorce |

According to the Former Spouse Protection Act, or FSPA, former spouses of military service members and retirees do not automatically receive a portion of service members’ retirement pay. The laws of the state determine whether retirement pay is classified as marital property and how the funds will be divided between the former spouses. If you’re a Minnesota resident and you serve or previously served in the military, it’s important to know how your retirement pay will be divided in a military divorce.

Determine retirement pay distribution

The system used to divide reserve retirement pay is based on the same system as active-duty retirements, except the reserve system uses retirement points instead of months. Division can result in no pay to the former spouse. However, in some cases, the former spouse could receive up to half of the retirement pay.

The amount reserve members must pay their ex-spouses is determined by the courts in a military divorce. Retired pay is usually defined as the retiree’s pay minus the member’s obligation to pay court-ordered fines or retirement overpay. If the retirement pay is deemed marital property, this ruling remains the same even if the service member remarries after their first military divorce.

Direct payment

The FSPA allows individuals who were once married to active-duty or retired members of the military to receive funds from the service member’s retirement pay. The funds come from the DFAS, or the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, and will only be distributed after a valid court order for property division, child support or alimony after a military divorce.

The couple must have been married at least a decade during at least 10 years of the military member’s active-duty service to receive a portion of retirement pay. If the marriage was shorter than 10 years, the former spouse may still be able to receive retirement pay as marital property. However, the spouse must prove to the court that they will receive the payment from the service member directly and not the DFAS.

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