Military Retirement Divorce 10/10 Rule


Going through any divorce is a tough process, usually filled with bitterness, resentment, and anger to boot. Even in the off chance that you’ll settle things amicably, it’s never a simple situation.

Add military benefits into the mix and things can get doubly messy. Retirement benefits for veterans are often an issue when it comes to military divorces and the 10/10 rule may affect parts of your divorce settlement.

Of course, it’s always best to consult with a divorce attorney about the current laws and what you’re entitled to, but for a little insight into the military retirement divorce 10/10 rule, read on.

What is the 10/10 Rule?

The military retirement divorce 10/10 rule is part of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA), which is a law passed in 1982 that gives state divorce courts the ability to treat military pensions as marital property that can be split between spouses in the event of divorce.

The rule stands for people who are getting divorced if they were married to their spouse for at least 10 years, and if that spouse had 10 years or more of creditable military service. But these parameters don’t decide whether or not an ex-military spouse will receive part of a military pension, it simply decides how that payment will be distributed.

The decision of how much of a retirement fund a former spouse will be entitled to is determined by the state court where the divorce is being handled. In most cases, the ex-spouse will indeed receive a portion of a military pension. Even if you’ve only been married for 18 months, there’s a chance a divorce could mean giving up half your benefits.

Instead, it should be made clear that the 10/10 rule is actually about how your ex-spouse will get paid their portion of the retirement funds from your military pension, not whether or not they will be paid.

For example, say Kelly and Josh had been married for 14 years and Kelly served in the military for 11 of those years creditably. In that case, the 10/10 rule stands meaning that Josh will get paid his share of the pension payments directly to him.

In another case, perhaps Bridget and Mitchell had been married for 14 years and Mitchell served in the military for 8 years during their marriage. In that case, the 10/10 rule would not apply since Mitchell didn’t meet the requirement of serving for 10 creditable years. In that case, Bridget is likely to still receive a portion of Mitchell’s pension, but those funds won’t be allocated directly to her. She’ll have to find another avenue, probably through the court system, in order to receive her share.

Again, always consult a divorce lawyer when dealing with a military divorce. When it comes to pensions and military law, there’s a lot to sort through, so make sure you deal with your divorce using the assistance of a proper attorney.

Read more here about why people in the military get married so young.

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