How are Military Pensions Divided in a Divorce?
Like many other professions, military servicemembers are receive a retirement pension as one of the benefits of their service. If a servicemember gets divorced in Florida, their spouse may be entitled to a portion, or all, of their retirement benefits. At the law office of Blair H. Chan, III in Tampa Bay, we have assisted many couples navigating a military divorce and are prepared to answer all your questions about how military retirement benefits may be affected. To learn more, call or contact our office now.
Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act
Military pensions are different from civilian pensions in that they are an all or nothing benefit. You cannot withdraw portions of a military retirement pension early or borrow from it before becoming fully vested in the pension. Servicemembers must serve twenty years or accrue enough points in the Reserve or National Guard in order to be entitled to their pension.
Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), a spouse of a servicemember is entitled to part, or all, of a military retirement pension during divorce proceedings. In order to qualify under the USFSPA, the couple must be married for at least ten years, and at least ten years of marriage must overlap with military service.
The USFSPA gives state courts the authority to treat military pensions as marital or community property in a divorce, and as such the pension can be divided between spouses. In Florida, marital property is divided as an equitable property state, which means that the funds in a military retirement pension can be split equitably, but not necessarily equally, between spouses.
Options for Dividing a Military Pension
As marital property, a military pension can be split in many different ways. The couple may come to an agreement on how to split the retirement funds between them, or one spouse may retain the entire pension in exchange for other marital property in the divorce. If the couple cannot agree on how to split the military pension, the court may step in and make that determination for the couple. Deciding whether a spouse wants a share of a military pension is a more nuanced decision than other types of retirement accounts, as it may require waiting years before the fund is eligible for distributions. An experienced attorney can review the status of your property distribution and advise you on whether it is in your best interest to retain a portion of a military retirement pension.
Call or Contact Our Office Now
Deciding how to divide a military pension is a complicated matter, and you should only entrust a knowledgeable Tampa military divorce attorney with complex issues in a military divorce. The law office of Blair H. Chan, III is prepared to assist with this and all other matters related to your Florida military divorce. To learn more about your legal options, call the office or contact us today to schedule a free consultation of your case.