This post is courtesy of Kevin Emerson, an attorney at Brown Paindiris & Scott:
If your spouse is a member of the military and you are considering divorce, you must educate yourself on the special rules that apply to the division of your spouse’s military retirement plan.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) sets forth these rules. First, the statute requires you and your spouse to have been married for at least 10 years while your spouse performed at least 10 years of active duty service before DFAS will honor an order dividing your spouse’s retired pay.
Second, the statute caps the amount which can be paid to a former spouse at 50 percent of your spouse’s “disposable retired pay.” Disposable retired pay is defined as retired pay less any disability payment. Therefore, if your spouse at any time after divorce receives a disability rating, the “disposable retired pay” will decrease by the amount of his disability payment. Without special language in the divorce judgment, your share of the retired pay will decrease accordingly.
It is not realistic for one to expect that a military spouse would know the inner workings of these statutes and rules. This is precisely why it is so important for a military spouse to retain counsel who knows these statutes and understands their impact on a divorce proceeding and a spouse’s rights. Our attorneys are knowledgeable on these rules and have a practiced hand in crafting divorce judgments to protect the interests of military spouses. Contact us today.