If you or your spouse is a servicemember and you are going through a divorce, it is important to understand how the division of military retired pay may affect the outcome of your divorce proceedings. While the information below is informative, each person’s case should be viewed individually by a competent attorney before signing any documents.
Uniformed Services’ Former Spouses Protection Act
Attribution: Army Judge Advocate General, http://www.jagcnet.army.mil
The USFSPA is a law Congress enacted in 1982 to provide benefits to certain former spouses of military members. It allows state courts to divide disposable military retired pay as marital property upon divorce under certain circumstances. Disposable military retired pay is a soldier’s monthly retired pay minus qualified deductions.
The USFSPA, does not establish a right to any specific amount of retirement pay that a former spouse may be awarded in a divorce settlement. The decision whether to award retirement pay is solely in the discretion of the state court and the amount awarded will vary.
What benefits are available under the USFSPA?
The other benefits available depend on the former spouse’s “category”. A spouse that passes the 20/20/20 test (the military member has completed at least 20 years of creditable service; the spouse has been married to the military member for at least 20 years at date of final decree of divorce; and the period of marriage overlaps the period of creditable service by at least 20 years) can receive commissary and PX privileges and full medical benefits. These benefits will be suspended if the spouse remarries; however, they will be revived if the subsequent marriage is terminated.
A 20/20/15 spouse (at least 15 years of overlap between the marriage and the creditable service) may be entitled to full military medical benefits for a one-year period after which the spouse may purchase a DoD-negotiated conversion health policy. These benefits will be suspended if the spouse remarries and will not be revived unless the subsequent marriage is annulled.
Former spouses of military members or retirees may have additional benefits under the Survivor’s Benefit Plan (SBP), certain separation incentive programs, and in certain domestic abuse situations.
For more information please click on the following link: Legal Eagle: Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (Common Questions & Answers) by Mark E. Sullivan, Retired Army Reserve JAG Colonel