Everything you need to know about military pensions

Military couples face unique challenges during divorce. They generally have many questions about how a divorce can affect their benefits, including military pensions. Military pensions are different from civilian pensions. Service members can only receive their full pension after 20 years of military service.

The former spouse may be entitled to a portion

Spouses can divide military pensions and apply the specific laws of the state where the divorce is filed. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), state courts can administer the pension and divide it among the spouses. When the pension is fully awarded to the service member, the beneficiaries can receive their share from other marital property.

If you are married to a service member and you want to get a divorce, it is important you address these aspects with the help of a Salt Lake City divorce attorney during your divorce proceedings. Even if your former spouse hasn’t retired yet, you will eventually receive a portion of their retirement as long as you claim it.

Some couples may forget to address military pensions during the divorce process or failed to get the right court order. If this is you, you may still have a chance through a motion but the process can be costly and complicated. Make sure you contact your Salt Lake City divorce attorney to handle these important aspects. You need to gather as much information as possible. If for any reason your ex-refuses to share this information, you must contact your attorney immediately.

It is important you choose the right court to file for divorce. This can be difficult because military families move every few years. It’s important to determine which court has jurisdiction over your divorce so you can avoid costly and unnecessary legal battles. When things get out control, make sure you have an attorney with you every step of the way.

Once you have picked the right court, in order to divide the pension is requested. If you and your former spouse can agree about the division of military benefits, your attorney can help you create an order and request the court’s approval. If you and your ex can’t agree on these aspects, you will have to go to trial and the court will determine how the military pension is divided. Some couples agree to award a specific amount or percentage of the military pension. Yet other couples prefer to receive other assets in exchange for their share of military benefits. In such cases, you need someone with experience valuing military pensions.

Once the pension is divided, a copy of the court’s order is sent to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). They handle the retirement benefits. You and your ex will receive the military pension payments from them as long as you meet some specific requirements.

If you have questions about your military pension, call us today and schedule your initial case assessment with Salt Lake City family law attorney Christopher M. Ault.