Military retirement pay and divorce property division

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Military Divorce on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

When military members in Illinois decide to divorce, they may be concerned about some special issues due to their situation. Of course, under state law, members of the military are the same as everyone else, with equal rights to divorce, child custody and property division. However, the divorce process may take a longer period of time if one party is stationed overseas or has been deployed abroad, even though residency requirements are often relaxed for active duty military members.

When it comes to property division in a military divorce, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act may be relevant. It directs that state law should apply to child support, alimony and other provisions of the divorce but also indicates that military retirement pay could be viewed as property rather than income. If the couple was married for 10 years before their divorce through 10 years of military service, the non-military spouse may be entitled to receive a portion of direct retirement payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). The 10 years of military service must fully overlap with 10 years of marriage for the spouse to retain this eligibility.

If the former spouse is entitled to receive these payments, they can receive at most 50% of military retirement pay. If the military member is already receiving their pension, the ex-spouse will begin to receive payments around 90 days after the divorce decree. Otherwise, they will receive those payments three months after the military member also becomes eligible for their pension. Some former spouses may also be able to retain eligibility for Tricare, the military health plan, if they were married for over 20 years.

Of course, military retirement pay is subject to equitable distribution, like other property of the marriage. A family law attorney may help military members navigate the process of divorce.

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