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How to divide a military pension in a divorce

Military couples in Tennessee deciding on divorce must abide by regulations from both their state of residence and the military. Few differences exist in most cases, but some situations that are specific to military life can arise for divorcees. One of these unique situations is the division of military pensions after divorce.

Military pensions as a divorce asset

The passing of the 1982 Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) by Congress designates a pension as property resulting from a military divorce. A divorce court can decide that the spouse earning the pension is the sole property owner or conclude that the pension benefits represent a shared asset.

A non-military spouse may receive direct payments for a portion of their ex-spouse’s military pension if married for at least 10 years. This 10-year period must overlap with 10 years of military service for the spouse receiving the benefits.

Dividing a military pension

The USFSPA does not designate a specific formula to use when dividing a military pension, but courts commonly use one of a group of calculation methods. Formulas account for the length of marriage and military service. The date of both the retirement and divorce are also focal points.

Additionally, the court can order the non-military ex-spouse’s portion delivered as a monthly dollar amount or percentage of the pension. It is important to note there are no dollar increases for the cost of living if the court’s award is a specific monthly dollar amount.

Pension benefits end when the service member dies. However, the ex-spouse may continue to receive benefit payments if the service member purchased a Survivor Benefit Plan before becoming deceased.

Dividing a military pension adds to the already complicated divorce process. Individuals with questions regarding the division of assets during a divorce may benefit from a conversation with a divorce attorney.