U.S. News and World Report noted that the average military pension is about $30,000 to $35,000 for each enlistment year. Officers get around double that amount.
This is no small amount, and in a divorce situation, a spouse may wish to get a part of this pension. This hard-earned benefit can significantly impact the financial well-being of both parties post-divorce.
Regulation of military pensions
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act plays a central role in regulating the division of military pensions in divorce cases. Under the USFSPA, state courts have the authority to treat military pensions as shared marital property. This means that, in the absence of other arrangements, the court can divide the pension between the ex-spouses. The court determines the entitled portion of the pension for the non-military spouse, often through calculations based on the length of the marriage overlapping with the military service.
The issuance of a QDRO
Generally, a court will issue the division of a military pension through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which outlines the portions for each spouse. Once approved, this order must go to the military finance center to ensure the former spouse receives the designated portion upon the retirement of the military member.
Negotiating the division of a military pension requires careful consideration and financial foresight. The process demands a clear understanding of the legal framework and potential consequences. Couples should note that division may not be equal as it depends on various factors under the USFSPA that the court must consider.