A divorce can be a trying time in anyone’s life. However, a divorce where one member serves in the military can be even more complex, especially when considering what happens to a spouse’s military pension after the divorce. The Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act allows non-serving spouses to have access to a military pension as a marital asset and enables them to be eligible for additional military benefits and rights, including health care, base access and a military ID card. Here are some things to consider when dividing up a military pension in the state of Florida.
Determining Eligibility for Military Pension Benefits
In general, non-serving spouses of military personnel must be married at least 10 years to receive any portion of their spouse’s military pension. These years must overlap with their military experience. Although sometimes a portion of the military pension is awarded to a non-military spouse who has been married for fewer than 10 years, this is not as common. If you have questions about whether or not you’d be entitled to any portion of your spouse’s military pension based on the length of time that you were married, it is best to consult with an attorney with experience in military divorce cases.
Understanding Limits of Access
When you go through a divorce, the family’s assets are considered and divided. When it comes to military pensions, non-service spouses do not have access to the entire pension. Rather, they only have access to the amount of the pension that was accrued during the marriage. If the military spouse accrued any money in their pension before the marriage, this may not be subject to the divorce proceedings.
Deciding on a Payout
There are multiple ways to handle the payout of a military pension during a divorce. These include a buyout at the time of the divorce (net present value), predetermined access when the serving spouse is eligible for the funds (deferred distribution) and court-determined access at the time of distribution (reserved jurisdiction). What is possible and preferable will depend on your unique circumstances.
Make the division of military retirement benefits easier with an experienced attorney. They’ll know what to do in your situation. Call Laura S. Coleman at 850-665-3008 for the help you need.