How Military Pensions Are Divided In Divorce

Military service members who have served at least 20 years of active duty will receive lifetime pensions upon retirement. Individuals in the reserves or National Guard can also receive such benefits, contingent upon accumulating enough "points" to do so. However, these pensions — like all marital property — are subject to division in divorce proceedings. Many individuals fail to anticipate this or do not fully understand the implications for their long-term financial independence.

Hartley Law Office, LLC, offers qualified legal guidance to service members and their spouses as they enter divorce proceedings. Founding attorney Aaron Hartley has been selected for inclusion in Ohio Super Lawyers' Rising Stars list since 2013 — a distinction reserved for fewer than 2.5 percent of practicing lawyers — and has a great deal of experience assisting individuals in Dayton and Montgomery County (including Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) through all aspects of divorce.

Complications Regarding Military Pensions And Divorce

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) ensures, as its name implies, that former spouses of military members will remain financially protected in the event of a divorce. Typically, the division of military benefits will be divided according to the laws of the state where the divorce takes place.

Military spouses must be especially careful in such matters. Specifically, it is of the utmost importance to inquire about military pensions during divorce proceedings. Failure to do so can functionally exempt the pension from the asset division process — the spouse will receive nothing. Remedying such a mistake is possible, but costly and time-consuming.

In addition, a recent Supreme Court ruling has made it harder for former spouses of military members to collect retirement benefits. Namely, in the case of Howell v. Howell, the court ruled — unanimously — that veterans can waive retirement pay in lieu of disability benefits. Moreover, it ruled that ex-spouses are not entitled to a share of disability benefits, as they would be to retirement pay. This can have major consequences regarding how divorce should be approached.

The Guidance You Need

To learn more about dividing military pensions or how divorce affects retirement planning, reach out to our firm. You can call us at 937-684-9271 or contact us online.