Military families across the state of Texas and the entire country rely heavily on incentives and services offered exclusively to qualifying military personnel and their dependents. As a result, divorce proceedings can have a profound impact on both military service members and their spouses. Understanding when and how military benefits are awarded in divorce settlements is an important aspect of guaranteeing that one’s rights are protected during such family law processes.
According to the Military.com website, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act was established in order to address concerns over ex-spouses’ eligibility to military retirement pay and other incentives. The federal piece of legislation can be used in civil court to assist in the identification and distribution of marital assets in divorce, and accounts for whether and how some military benefits are awarded to non-serving spouses.
Given that divorce is considered a civil matter, the Military One Source website explains that the USFSPA is typically considered in civilian court rooms, and is seldom handled by military commanders. And while the federal guidelines do provide for how military medical benefits and other forms of military retirement pay are distributed in divorce, such arrangements are typically determined on a case-by-case basis. However, full privileges relating to access to commissary and medical services are generally awarded to the non-military spouse in cases where the divorcing couple in question meets three criteria: the couple should have been married a minimum of 20 years, the couple should have been married during at least 20 years of the service member’s time in the military, and the service member should have been in the armed forces for Least 20 years as well.