Are You Entitled To Your Spouse’s Military Pension?

If you've recently chose to divorce your spouse  If your spouse is a member of the military, this divorce may become more complex. Unlike most civilians, military members' retirement savings primarily come in the form of a pension, which can be difficult to divide among more than one person. However, this division is often necessary in order to secure the financial future of both spouses. Read on to learn more about how the pension is treated in a military divorce, as well as what you should do to preserve your rights and protect your finances while divorcing a member of the military.

When are you entitled to a portion of your spouse's military pension?

Federal laws and regulations dictate the division of the military pension during divorce, and the rule of thumb is that a spouse who has been married to the service member for 10 years or longer is entitled to up to half of the total pension amount. However, you might be able to ask for (and receive) even more of this pension in exchange for giving up other property, like a home, or in exchange for spousal support. If you've been married less than 10 years, you're likely still entitled to a share of the pension, although it's unlikely you'll receive half.

Though this pension division is made official upon the judge's signature on the divorce decree, it may be years or even decades before either you or your spouse is entitled to collect the pension. Because this division is unlikely to kick in automatically, you'll need to stay on top of the process and will want to ensure that your spouse hasn't provided false or misleading information to the military in an attempt to limit your access to his or her pension (for example, retiring and taking the pension without telling you).

What should you do to ensure your rights are protected during a military divorce?

Your best bet is to consult an attorney who is experienced in the nuanced negotiations that often accompany a military divorce. Because spouses of service members often spend years or decades following the service members to various stations around the country, it can be difficult to hold down full-time employment, and your own retirement savings and career path may have suffered as a result. For this reason, it's important to have an advocate who can ensure that you receive everything from the marriage to which you were entitled.

To learn more about military divorce, contact a law firm like Karen Robins Carnegie PLC