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Dividing military pensions under the USFSPA

With both Randolph and Lackland Air Force Bases nearby, as well as Fort Sam Houston, it’s no surprise that we here at the law office or Roland R. Esparza, P.C. have become familiar with the unique aspects of military divorce. One such aspect that divorcing military couples must deal with is the division of one’s military pension. In this post, we’ll examine exactly how that asset is divided during divorce.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act affords the former spouses of servicemen and women the right to continue to receive military benefits after their divorces. This right also extends to retirement pensions. To qualify for a retirement pension, military members must have a minimum of twenty years of active service to their credit. According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, one must be married to a service member for at least 10 years in order for the division of retirement pay to be enforceable under the USFSPA.

This point often causes a great deal of confusion. The USFSPA does not guarantee a former spouse a portion of his or her ex’s pension, nor does it mean that someone married to a service member for less than 10 years cannot be awarded pension benefits in a divorce settlement. What it does guarantee is that any divided pension benefits that meet the 10 year criteria will be directly taken from the member’s pay. A state court that has jurisdiction over the member can award his or her ex pension benefits prior to the 10 year deadline. In such a case, the member would be responsible to pay the benefits directly.  

For more information on dealing with a military divorce, visit our Military Family Law and Divorce page. 

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