If you are a current or former member of the military and want to divorce your spouse, you have some obstacles you must address that others are often able to avoid. That is, the division of your marital assets may depend on both military and civilian law.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act aims to protect military spouses during divorce proceedings by sometimes giving them access to health care benefits, retirement benefits, commissary and privileges and Morale Welfare and Recreation benefits.
Dividing your retirement benefits
If you have made a career out of serving in the armed forces, your retirement benefits are likely to be valuable both to you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Typically, the division of military retirement benefits depends on the 10/10 rule.
If you have served at least 10 years in the military during a marriage that lasted at least 10 years, your husband or wife may have a legal claim to some of your retirement benefits. He or she may also be able to have the military deliver retirement funds directly to him or her.
Sharing your health benefits
Your current husband or wife may also want the health benefits that often come from having a military spouse. Whether your spouse can access benefits after your divorce probably depends on the 20/20/15 rule.
This rule gives your spouse a claim to health benefits if your marriage was at least 20 years long, you have 20 years of creditable military service, and your marriage and military service overlapped by at least 15 years.
Because dividing military benefits can be both challenging and confusing during a divorce, it is critical to know how the law applies to your situation. Ultimately, you must understand both the law and the facts of your divorce to determine how many of your benefits you stand to lose.