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How are military retirement benefits handled in divorce?

Being an active duty service member is a time-consuming endeavor. And the men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting our country's interests and freedoms often must make personal sacrifices. One of those sacrifices is spending extended periods away from home and family. And sadly, this separation can cause a strain on a marriage.

In some cases, military couples come to decide that it is in their best interests to file for divorce. And while in many ways the divorce process for military couples is similar to that of civilian couples, there are some very important differences.

Asset division is typically a key element in any divorce and service members often have retirement benefits that become subject to such division. It is the state courts that determine how the benefits are to be divided.

But it is the Defense Finance and Accounting Service that is tasked with administering the division of retirement pay. This applies to marriages that lasted over 10 years, during which time the service member must have been engaged in active military duty for 10 years or more.

What is important to understand is that DFAS requires that military retirement payment orders be written in clear and concise terms. But these terms are contingent upon the specific variables that are present in each individual divorce. In other words, one size does not fit all.

As such, if you are in the process of going through a military divorce and there are retirement benefits on the table, you may wish to seek advice and counsel from an attorney.

An experienced military divorce attorney could represent your interests in court to help ensure you get a fair settlement. The attorney could help craft an agreement that both suits your needs and will be in an acceptable form to submit to the DFAS.

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