Retired Pay & Military Divorce

Are you seeking a military divorce in Colorado?

Like any divorce, military divorce involves asset and debt division. Technically, the legal procedures surrounding military divorce are the same as a regular divorce. However, military personnel usually have additional financial assets to divide during the divorce process – such as retired pay. Military active duty retired pay is one of the most beneficial retirement plans offered in the United States. Retirement benefits begin the day you retire; no matter how old you are. Some military personnel begin collecting benefits when they are only 37 years old. Additionally, your pension check can adjust with the growing cost of living every year.

Divorce and Retired Pay

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) allows the state to treat military disposable retired pay as marital property. Disposable retired pay includes the service member's retired pay, minus deductions. Through the USFSPA, local courts have the freedom to divide disposable retired pay like they would a civilian pension plan. The USFSPA does not automatically give ex-spouses a portion of the service member's retired pay; instead, it allows the former spouse to seek a percentage of the service member's retired pay during the divorce process.

Former Spouses and Survivor Benefit Plans

The USFSPA also allows former spouses the opportunity to receive money from a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) too. Through an SBP, retired service members can continue to provide income for a beneficiary after their death. However, continued enrollment is not automatic for former spouses. If a service member elected SBP upon his/her retirement, the SBP will be automatically terminated in the event of a divorce. However, the service member can choose to honor his/her previous agreement and elect a former spouse for benefits.

In order to qualify for benefits as a formers spouse, the spouse must be able to demonstrate that the service member served in the U.S. military for at least 20 years. Additionally, the marriage must have lasted for 20 years. If the marriage and time of service overlapped for less than 20 years, the former spouse will not qualify for continuing benefits. Individuals who meet these requirements are called "20/20/20" formers spouses. 20/20/20 former spouses may be entitled to exchange and health care benefits.

Under certain circumstances, spouses who do not meet these full requirements may be able to collect military medical benefits. If the service member's time of service and the marriage only overlapped by 15 years, the former spouse may be able to collect medical benefits – but only for one year following the divorce proceedings. After this point, the former spouse can purchase a health policy with the DOD, but will not be given benefits for free.

Retired Pay, Divorce, and Eligibility

Not all former spouses are eligible to receive direct payments from their military service member's retired pay. In order to divide retired pay as marital property, the marriage must have lasted more than 10 years. Additionally, the service member and former spouse must have been married for at least ten years while the service member performed credible service for the military. Unlike retired pay, the former spouse can receive court-order spousal support and child support if the marriage lasted for less than 10 years.

Colorado Springs Military Divorce Lawyer

Contact Clawson & Clawson, LLP if you're facing a military divorce in Colorado Springs or the surrounding area. Divorce is never easy – especially if it involves complicated asset division. Our team of lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and options during a military divorce. To see what Clawson & Clawson, LLP can of for you, call our office today and schedule a case consultation. With more than 120 combined years of experience, our firm has the skill to obtain the case results you need.

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