Dividing Up Military Pensions

In divorce, military pension benefits are included in property division proceedings. While it is a simple process if a service member is already retired when the divorce starts, it is even more complicated if retirement is still a ways off. In case of the latter, the marital share of the pension needs to be calculated by an actuary or other expert.

To Take a Lump Sum or Not

When a military pension is subject for division, the civilian spouse has the option of waiting to receive a share of the benefits when the service member retires, or accepting a lump sum buyout in the form of cash or in trade for marital assets. Some lawyers believe that it is better for a civilian spouse to take a lump sum, as opposed to staying involved in an unpredictable system.

Unpredictability factors includes:

  • Service member’s survival until retirement
  • Eligibility for retirement
  • Rank and pay grade at the time of retirement

What Gets Divided?

According to federal law, state courts are only allowed to divide “disposable retired pay” in a divorce. Disposable retired pay equals the service member’s gross retirement pay, which doesn’t include any amounts that the government deducts, such as prior overpayments or court-martial fines. Furthermore, disability pay benefits are excluded from disposable retirement pay.

If you are interested in filing for military divorce in Annapolis, MD, schedule a free consultation with the Law Office of Nicholas T. Exarhakis today.

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