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Ex Wife Military Retirement Benefits

Military Spouse Benefits Frequently Asked Questions

Wills & Family Law : Ex-Spouse Military Retirement Benefits

Are civilian spouses entitled to any military benefits like exchange, commissary, and health care benefits after a divorce? Can the civilian spouse collect a portion of their soon-to-be ex-spouses military retirement pay? These questions can be answered by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, or USFSPA.

To help our clients better understand military spouse benefits, our firm’s attorneys have explained the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about this topic. For more information, please give us a call.

Is the civilian spouse permitted access to any part of their spouses military retired pay in the state of Florida?
  • Yes, but this is not automatically allowed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act . It instead defers to the state law of wherever themilitary divorce has been filed. Military retired disposable pay is considered a marital asset under state law and is therefore subject to division during a divorce.
  • In Florida, the civilian spouse is entitled to an equitable, but not necessarily equal, share of whatever portion of the service members military retirement was earned while they were married.
When can a Qualified Domestic Relations Order be completed?
  • A Qualified Domestic Relations Order can be completed at any time for the military. However, the amount the civilian spouse is designated to receive is only determined at retirement.
Can military retired pay be subject to garnishments?

Enrollment In The Brs Depends On When You Joined The Service

  • If you joined before January 1, 2006, you remained in the legacy retirement system.

  • If you joined the service on or after January 1, 2018, you were automatically enrolled in the BRS.

  • If you joined between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2017, you could stay in the legacy system or enroll in the new one. The last day to enroll in the BRS plan was December 31, 2018.

How Long Does A Military Spouse Receive Pay After Divorce

If your former spouse is entitled to a portion of your military retirement pay, then they will continue to receive this payment until one of you passes away. If you die before your ex, then their benefits will stop. However, remarriage does not affect their right to a portion of your military pension if it was awarded in a divorce.

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Impact On The Survivor Benefit Plan

If a member voluntarily elects SBP coverage for a former spouse and that agreement has been ratified or approved by a court order, or, if the member has been ordered to elect SBP coverage for a former spouse, the retired member must make that election within one year of the date of the divorce. A former spouse, within one year of the date of divorce may submit to DFAS-CL a request that a “deemed” SBP election be established. If neither the Retired Soldier nor the former spouse requests former spouse SBP coverage within one year of date of divorce, former spouse coverage will not be established. A retired member cannot voluntarily elect nor can a court order former spouse SBP coverage if the retired member had not elected SBP spouse coverage at time of retirement.

SBP coverage for a former spouse will be no more than the amount of SBP coverage for the spouse.

A former spouse who remarries before age 55 loses SBP eligibility however, if the marriage ends in death, divorce, or annulment, eligibility is reinstated. A former spouse who remarries after age 55 does not lose eligibility.

What Other Limitations Are There In Military Divorce

How Much Is Military Medical Retirement Pay

To divide pensions, the state court has to have appropriate jurisdiction. With military families, this can be complicated. A court has jurisdiction over a service member if: The service member resides in the courts territorial jurisdiction and is not there for a military assignment The service member domiciles in the courts territorial jurisdiction The service member consents to the courts jurisdiction. If the court does not have jurisdiction, then they are not able to divide the pension.

So, its important to make sure that you file for divorce in that state, not the one you are currently deployed in. It is also possible for both spouses to consent to the jurisdiction of a more convenient court, but this has to be done properly. Also, the military will not process direct payments if the divorce was finalized overseas.

The spouse has to send an application to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service along with a copy of the court order. Payments will then start within 90 days, and will go out on the normal monthly retired pay cycle.

The money is considered taxable income, and the DFAS will do all required withholding if the amount hits the necessary threshold.

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Health Care And Other Benefits

If a retired service member served in the military for at least 20 years, a former spouse was married to the service member for at least 20 years, and the 20 years of marriage overlapped the military service by at least 20 years, the former spouse is entitled to full commissary, exchange and health care benefits. If the period of marriage overlapped by only 15 years, the ex-spouse is entitled to health care benefits for one year following the final divorce decree.


Can A Former Spouse Still Receive Benefits After Divorcing A Veteran

The first thing to understand is that there are different types of benefits available to two different types of U.S. military members.

One group is military veterans, who served in active duty and were then discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. These vets receive health, financial and burial benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs .

The other group is known as military retirees. These individuals are also veterans, but in a different sense. They have completed at least 20 years of active service or have medically retired from the armed services due to a disability. Military retirees receive retirement pay from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service of the Department of Defense and medical coverage through the TRICARE program.

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Benefits For Spouse Of A Military Retiree

Did you know that, as the spouse of a retiree, you may be eligible for a number of benefits? There are many things for which you may be eligible, including medical insurance, free legal assistance, property tax discounts and more.

While no list can cover all the benefits to which you are entitled, this page lists some of the bigger ones.

As the spouse of a military retiree, you may be eligible for:

How Divorce Affects Dod Benefits

Benefits Military Spouses Receive After Divorce

On the other hand, benefits for ex-spouses of military retirees function very differently. Because military retirement typically occurs after decades of service and/or a serious disability, it only makes sense that the civilian spouses who supported these servicemen and servicewomen would be entitled to some form of benefits even after the marriage has ended. Unlike the VA pensions mentioned above, which are designed to provide low-income veterans with supplemental income, military retirement pay functions like a pension in the traditional sense. The employer just happens to be a branch of the armed services.

In divorce proceedings, military retirement pay is handled differently in each state. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act enacted in 1982, state courts are permitted, but not required, to handle a members retirement pay as community property and grant a percentage to a former spouse. Some state laws treat military retirement pay as solely belonging to the member, while other states treat these funds as joint property of both the military member and the former spouse. If and how these retirement payments are divided depends on where the divorce proceedings are filed and whether this state has jurisdiction over the retirement pay. Deciding jurisdiction can be tricky, especially if both parties reside in different states, so it is wise to consult with an experienced attorney before filing.

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The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act

Legal authority for USFSPA is found in Title 10, United States Code Section 1408. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service official site says the act accomplishes two important things.

It establishes or recognizes the right of state courts to distribute military retired pay to a spouse or former spouse and it creates an avenue of enforcement via the Department of Defense. The act DOES NOT automatically award a portion of military retired pay to a former spouse, as well explain below.

Details Required To Establish Military Benefits And Retirement Accounts As Marital In Virginia

The Epps decision noted that, in order for the military retirement to be considered part of the marital assets being equitably divided, the husband had the burden to prove that his former wifes pension, or a portion of it, was marital property as defined in the Virginia Code. However, in this instance, the husband only presented vague testimony about the terms of his wifes military service, her dates of military service, and the duration of the marriage as aligned with her military service tenure. The husband thus failed to provide the exact date his former wife entered the Coast Guard, the date she retired, or the length of time the parties were married while the wife was enlisted in the Coast Guard. The court ruled that, in view of such evidentiary gaps, it was impossible to properly classify the property or determine if there was a marital share to be allocated between the former spouses in the distribution of assets. The husband was, therefore, unsuccessful in appealing the courts failure to include the military retirement when determining equitable distribution of the couples assets.

This case documents how essential it is to have specific information responsive to the 10/10/10 provision, as well as the services of expert legal counsel when spouses with military retirement assets file for divorce.

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Tricare For Divorced Spouses

Tricare CHCBP is not exactly Tricare, but, rather, a much more expensive benefit, similar to COBRA benefits on civilian medical care. For a premium , the former spouse may continue Tricare coverage for three years.

Alternatively, if the divorced spouse has not remarried and is receiving a share of the military retirement or SBP, indefinite coverage is available. For more information, see the Military Health Benefits for Divorced Spouses article in the Military Divorce Guide. Because of the cost, this is probably not one of the more valuable of the military benefits for divorced spouses.

Dealing With Military Pensions And Other Military

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While many aspects of dealing with military pensions, benefits, and other military-specific issues during the divorce process are governed by federal law, officers, enlisted service members, and veterans still have many important steps to take in order to protect their legal rights. If you are preparing to go through a military divorce in Tennessee, you should speak with an attorney to develop a plan for addressing issues including:

  • Child custody and child support
  • Division of your shared assets
  • Military pay and alimony
  • Issues specific to officers and enlisted service members who are on active duty or deployed

At Batson Nolan PLC, we are proud to serve military service members and veterans, and our attorneys bring decades of combined experience to helping our military clients protect their assets, income, and relationships with their children during the divorce process. For legal advice that is custom-tailored to your individual career and family circumstances, please contact us to arrange a confidential initial consultation.

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When considering what a spouse may be entitled to receive in a divorce, the baseline consideration is the length of the marriage, the length of the service, and the overlap between the marriage and the military service. In order to retain any benefits, the marriage must have lasted at least 20 years and the service member must have served at.

The 20/20/20 rule means the full gauntlet of military benefits for divorced spouses are available to ID card holders. The former spouse retains an ID card and all benefits that go along with it, including Tricare medical, access to military installations, the commissary, etc. To qualify, the couple must have been married for at least 20 years.

Your surviving spouse may remarry after age 55 and continue to receive SBP payments for life. If your surviving spouse remarries before age 55, SBP payments will stop, but may be resumed if the.

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Your sponsors military Service Component is responsible for determining your continuing eligibility. If you and your sponsor are separated or living apart, but not divorced, you keep TRICARE benefits. After a divorce, you may be eligible for TRICARE coverage if you fit into one of the following scenarios:.

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Fact Or Whacked Myths And Mistakes In Military Divorces

INTRODUCTION: As a service to our legal assistance clients, we have prepared this handout with frequently asked questions on issues involving an overview of the divorce process. It is, of course, very general in nature since no handout can answer your specific questions. We do ask, however, that you read over these explanations carefully in connection with your visit to our legal assistance attorneys so that you may have the fullest information available to help you with your family law problem. Please send comments, corrections and suggestions regarding this pamphlet to the address at the end of the last page.


In too many military divorces, a client or lawyer makes a costly mistake. Often it’s because the client is unaware of the options or the law, someone relies on rumors and myths, barracks lawyers and buddies provide well-meaning but erroneous information, the attorney is unaware of the rules for military retirement and its division, or the rules themselves are too complex, illogical and confusing. This LEGAL EAGLE will help you sort out truth from urban legends, the fact from the whacked . Since this information is necessarily brief, ask your lawyer for a further explanation if you need to learn more.


FACT #1: Unless the marriage lasts for the entire military career, you need to know about the marital share.


FACT #2: Ignorance of the SBP can be costly.


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Virginia Military Divorce: Highly Specialized Practice Area

If all of these conditions are not met, a spouse may still be awarded a portion of the military retirement pay under the terms of a divorce settlement agreement or a court-ordered property distribution however, the share would have to be provided to the spouse from the military member directly. Even if the military pension falls under the terms of the 10/10/10 provision, the precise terms of how the pension is paid out and divided will depend on factspecific considerations. In this regard, the services of experienced legal counsel are essential to help you assess options and ensure conformity with this highly specialized and regulated area.

A recent case from Portsmouth, Virginia, Epps v. Epps , reveals the complexity and highly specialized nature of issues involving distribution of military pension assets. The courts ruling also confirms the need for parties to a divorce to accurately document the terms of and circumstances giving rise to the military retirement benefits, as well as the marital and military service tenure involved.

In the Epps case, the husband appealed certain aspects of a final divorce decree related to equitable distribution of assets, including his former wifes military retirement. The Husband claimed that the trial court had failed to classify the wifes military retirement property as either separate or marital, in violation of the Virginia Code provision concerning property division when dissolution of a marriage occurs ).

Va Disability Compensation Benefits

Divorce in the Military: Can My Spouse Take My Military Retirement or VA Disability Benefits?

Veterans who have a service-related injury or illness may be entitled to VA disability compensation. Its a tax-free monthly benefit.

Visit VA.gov to learn:

  • Which conditions qualify you for benefits

  • How the claims process works

Survivors of veterans may receive compensation benefits in certain situations.

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Impact Of The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act On Survivor Benefit Plan Designation

Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, a former spouse can be designated as a Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiary if the spouse was previously listed as a spouse beneficiary, with the following considerations:

  • Voluntary or court-ordered designation
  • Divorce after retirement: The former spouses coverage will be the same amount as the spouse coverage.
  • Divorce before retirement: The specific coverage level should be directed by court order.
  • Former spouse remarriage before age 55: Eligibility as a beneficiary is lost unless the remarriage ends, and then eligibility is restored.

The 10/10 Rule And Military Pensions

In cases of dividing a military pension in a divorce, the 10/10 rule is a source of much confusion. Many people take this to mean that the spouse of a service member is only eligible to receive a portion of the retirement benefits if the marriage lasted at least ten years and at least ten of those years were spent in creditable military service.

That, however, is not the case.

Instead of dealing with whether or not one spouse can collect a portion of the military pension or not, the 10/10 rule simply establishes where the payment originates.

If you were married for ten years, and ten of those years counted toward the military retirement benefits, and that pension is later divided in a divorce, the payment will be delivered by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Otherwise, the checks come directly from the retired service member.

No two ways about it, when it comes to dividing up a military pension at the end of a marriage, its a tricky business. There are a number of factors to take into account. Despite falling under the umbrella of the USFSPA, the rules and regulations vary greatly from state to state. As is usually the case, its in your best interests to consult an experienced professional.

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