The separation of assets can be one of the trickiest aspects of your divorce. This is especially true of military divorces in which there are many benefits the civilian spouse can access.
If you are divorcing a member of the armed services, the court can potentially award you part of your former spouse’s military retired pay.
Federal law and regulations
Congress passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act in 1982. Under this law, state courts may classify military retired pay as community property if they so choose. As a civilian, you cannot receive more than 50% of a service member’s military retired pay after divorce, but the law does not otherwise specify how the courts should divide this asset.
The role of state courts
A state court may consider military retired pay community property if it has jurisdiction over the military spouse. For instance, if a service member is a legal resident of Maryland or lives in Maryland at the time of divorce, that individual is under the jurisdiction of Maryland courts. Your military member spouse can also choose to consent to the court’s jurisdiction.
Distribution of assets
If the court awards you part of your former spouse’s military retired pay, you could receive direct payment from the Department of Defense if the marriage lasted for over a decade and your service member spouse served at least 10 creditable years.
When undergoing a military divorce, you should understand how the law and courts view entitlements, including military retired pay, to ensure the fair division of your shared property.