Military Divorce: Retirement Benefits

A divorce involving a member of the armed forces brings about special challenges. One of the most complicated areas that a military divorce attorney can assist you with is the division of military retirement pay and pension. The non-military member spouse may be entitled to a share of these assets, but only under certain conditions.
Military Divorce and Retirement Benefits
When Can A Spouse Claim Retirement Benefits?

Generally, an ex-spouse may be entitled to retirement payments when the spouse has been married to the military service member for at least ten years while overlapping with at least ten years of military service. 

The calculation to determine eligibility for retirement benefits is not always straightforward, though, so you will want to discuss specifics with an attorney.

Two common complications that may arise:

  • Overlapping Years. The couple may have been married for ten years; however, it can be difficult to establish if that time period overlapped with military service. For example, questions may concern whether the military service was active duty.
  • Ten-Year Marriage. The length of your marriage may seem obvious. However, you may need to talk to an attorney to learn how state laws track your marriage.

You should remember that even if an ex-spouse is technically ineligible for retirement benefits under military law, the spouses can still work out an arrangement through a divorce settlement giving the ex-spouse a portion of the benefits. Your lawyer will discuss settlement options for retirement plans as well as for alimony, child support, and other divorce issues.