How will my divorce affect my military pension?

| Jul 7, 2020 | Military Divorce

Military divorces often come with financial complexities that civilian divorces lack. If you serve in any capacity, you will receive a pension that provides income once your career ends. Yet, your spouse may try staking a claim to these by arguing that they are marital property. While their claim could have base, their share depends on your unique circumstances.

How divorce impacts military pensions

When couples divorce in Georgia, they must follow the state’s equitable distribution laws. This method of property division splits assets in a fair – rather than equal – manner, in which you and your spouse both receive a proportionate share. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act allows states to treat your military pension as property, rather than income, during divorce proceedings. Your pension then become subject to division under the state’s equitable distribution laws, unless you and your spouse agree you can keep it in exchange for assets of equal value.

Yet, the division of your pension could fall under military jurisdiction. Martial law entitles your spouse to receive direct payment of your pension if:

  • Your marriage lasted for 10 or more years
  • Your marriage and military service overlapped for 10 or more years

Your spouse can only receive an automatic share of your pension if both criteria apply to you. In most cases, they will receive no more than 50% of your pension. The exception to this rule is if you two have children and you have an obligation to provide support. In this case, up to 65% of your pension could go to your spouse.

How military pensions disburse

Under martial law, your spouse’s percentage of your pension depends upon the length of your marriage. The total value of their share depends upon when they receive it. If your spouse agrees to a buyout, you would pay their share upfront at its net present value. You also have the option of a deferred distribution, where your spouse’s share is determined during divorce proceedings but is paid once you retire. Most couples opt for reserve jurisdiction, though. In this arrangement, your spouse’s share of your pension is determined upon your retirement.

Dividing your military pension during divorce can lead to confusion and frustration. By knowing which laws apply to it – and when – you can clarify the process and protect your finances.