How Are Military Pensions and Benefits Divided During a Divorce?

In an earlier blog post, we discussed why military divorce is different from, and sometimes more complicated than, regular civilian divorce. A big question many military families have during a divorce is what happens to their benefits as provided by the military? Many aren’t sure if the benefits are still awarded to the spouse who is a non-military member. A military divorce settlement will include benefits and pensions to the non-military person based on Texas state law.

There are a few circumstances that override whichever state law is governing military divorce. According to the “10 Year Rule” if the marriage lasted ten years or longer the Defense Finance and Accounting Service or DFAS will pay the non-military spouse’s pension wages directly. Regardless of the time of marriage, the court may still require payment to the non-military spouse as part of the divorce settlement. However, instead of the money coming directly from the DFAS, it will be designated to come from the military-affiliated spouse.

Spouses of ex-military members quality for full medical, commissary, and exchange privileges when the couple was married for at least 20 years or if there was a 20-year overlap in marriage and military service. Also, the spouse will qualify if the service member has performed 20 years of credible service toward retirement pay. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Act or USFSA, will govern whether the retirement pay is considered sole or community property.

Just when a person thought divorce couldn’t get any more confusion, military divorce can be. The judge in any military divorce case still has the discretion of military benefits and pensions. This is discretion according to state law. Each military divorce case is different and requires the knowledge of military divorce law, in order to determine how benefits and pensions are calculated.

Source:, “Military Divorce,” Accessed September 8, 2014

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