Military life can be hard on families and marriages due to the travel, separation due to deployment and stress. It is an unfortunate reality that many people who are in the military will end up getting a divorce. For Missourians who were members of the U.S. Armed Forces, there are often concerns not just about how the divorce will proceed, but how benefits will be divided once the marriage is dissolved. This can depend on the amount of time the couple was married and if the marriage overlapped with the service member’s time in the military.
The state will hold jurisdiction over a case including the division of assets. This is based on the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). Under this law, a former spouse is not automatically entitled to receive a part of the military retirement benefits. With USFSPA, there is the 10/10 rule. With 10/10, the receiving spouse can get the portion of the retirement pay straight from the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) – the entity that oversees military retirement pay.
When the service member’s former spouse is awarded part of the retirement pay, there are two requirements: the couple must have been married for a minimum of 10 years; and while the couple was married, the service member must have been in the military and credited for a minimum of 10 years of military service. The former spouse who is receiving part of the retired service member’s pay will get this automatically and not be forced to have contact or dispute over the payments with the former service member. They can only get what was earned while the couple was married. The maximum is 50 percent of the former service member’s disposable income.
Some spouses of former military members might not be fully aware of the 10/10 rule or exactly what they are entitled to when they get a divorce. Having legal assistance from a lawyer who understands the 10/10 rule and how a military divorce differs from a civilian divorce has a major impact on the case. This is the first call that a military spouse should make when the decision is made to divorce.
Source: Military.FindLaw.com, “The 10/10 Rule and Military Divorce,” accessed on Jan. 30, 2018