Q:

What military benefits is a spouse entitled to after a divorce?

A:

Quick Answer

A former spouse’s entitlement to military benefits after a divorce is defined by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act. Courts do not need to consider this when awarding alimony or child support. Those awards are in addition to any military benefits.

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Full Answer

The USFSPA governs a former spouse’s entitlement to a portion of the retired spouse’s military pension. This law allows the state to treat the retiree’s benefit as property rather than income. To establish eligibility for a court-ordered division of retired pay as property, the former spouse must have been married to the member for 10 years or more during which time the member performed 10 years creditable service.

The maximum amount the ex-spouse can receive is 50 percent of the retiree’s payments. If the former spouse does not qualify under this rule, the state can still award a portion of the retiree benefit as income that is in addition to alimony and child support. If combining child support with the former spouse’s retirement award, the maximum combined amount that can be deducted from the retiree’s benefit is 65 percent.

Continued medical coverage and other benefits can continue if 20 years of marriage and 20 years of service overlap for 20 years. If the marriage and military service overlap by only 15 years, the spouse can continue to receive coverage, but only for a 36-month transitional period. Other rules apply to survivor benefits.

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