When couples divorce, there are many aspects that must be handled by divorce attorneys to finalize this action and terminate the marriage. Some of the items might include common things, such as the division of marital property, child custody, and child support. When one of the partners in a marriage is or was in the military, divorce lawyers know that there is a need to discuss military pensions. Divorce can affect a military pension, so it is important for active-duty and retired service members to work with divorce law firms who are experienced in the division of military pensions to ensure this is properly handled for both parties involved in the divorce.
What Is A Military Pension?
A military pension is a retirement fund that military members receive after a minimum of 20 years of military service. It is different from most other types of pensions in that no borrowing is permitted, it cannot be "cashed out" early, and you don't have to reach a certain age to receive it. Members who quality for military retirement start receiving it immediately after their retirement.
Military Pensions are Marital Property
Military pensions are paid out after a minimum of 20 years of service and are received by the military member for the rest of their lives after retirement. They are viewed by the U.S. government as marital property. A spouse is entitled to request a portion of the other spouse's military retirement, with the amount awarded dependent upon specific circumstances. This has been in effect since 1982 as part of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), which allows divorce attorneys on behalf of their clients and state courts to treat military pensions as marital property and divide it as deemed necessary.
Addressing Military Pensions During Divorce
Spouses of military members who are entitled to receive pensions must address the issue of the division of pension benefits during divorce negotiations with the help of experienced divorce lawyers. Because military pensions are viewed as marital property, it is the responsibility of the state to divide these pensions, not pension administrators. This fact makes it important for divorcing spouses to retain the services of attorneys who work for law firms experienced in handling military pensions. These lawyers need to understand the ways in which military retirement funds are viewed in each individual divorce case, then proceed to request spousal consideration accordingly.
A clear understanding of the intricacies and details of a military pension including the full options to which former spouses are entitled is of utmost importance. Military pensions are only payable if the pensioner actually applies for them. This means spouses who are eligible and have that entitlement documented in a marital settlement agreement cannot collect until their former spouse actually applies for their benefits. It is recommended that any divorce settlement include wording that the military member must apply for retirement when eligible. There are other specific rules that apply to these benefits, such as the Survivor’s Benefit Plan (SBP) which spouses must be enrolled in or they could lose any portion of their entitled benefits should their former spouse pass away. All of these details regarding the proper division of a military pension show a clear need for the services of a law firm experienced with military pensions and divorce for assistance and guidance during divorce proceedings.
Military pensions are considered as marital property that should be divided as such, during a divorce. Divorce attorneys indicate that there are many important details regarding the proper division of a military pension. Therefore, spouses of military members who are entitled to a pension should seek the services of experienced divorce lawyers from law firms that concentrate in divorce cases and have a thorough understanding of military pensions and options. By doing this, military spouses can be informed of the different pension payment methods available and couples can work together on the most fair division of a military pension.
Foreman Family Law, PLLC
309 North Washington Avenue, Suite 12
Bryan TX 77803