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How military disposable retired pay is divided upon divorce

Ask any military couple as to whether they ever find their marriage placed under considerable strain owing to the many demands of our nation's armed forces, and there's a very good chance you'll receive a resounding yes from both spouses.   

Indeed, those husbands or wives bravely serving in the military must frequently deal with long hours, irregular schedules, trainings at facilities across the U.S. and, of course deployment overseas.   

While these realities are understandably stressful for the military spouse, they can serve to be stressful for the civilian spouse as well, as he or she is essentially left to keep the household running and potentially raise children on their own while perhaps even working full-time.

Needless to say, it's easy to see why and how many military marriages can unfortunately end in divorce.

When the difficult decision is made to pursue a divorce, questions naturally arise as to whether the process will unfold in much the same manner as a civilian divorce.

While it's true that there are many aspects of a military divorce that will be similar to a civilian divorce, it's important to understand that there will also be some unique considerations. This is especially true in the area of property division, as career servicemembers accrue some truly valuable benefits.

Take for example, military disposable retired pay, which is essentially the total monthly pay to which a retired servicemember is entitled minus things like federal debt repayments, forfeitures, fines, disability pay, etc.

For many years, divorcing civilian spouses often found themselves unable to secure a portion of their former spouse's disposable retired pay despite being married for years.

Recognizing the inherent inequity of this situation and eager to provide some measure of financial protection, Congress passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, or the USFSPA, back in 1982, an action that changed things dramatically by granting the state courts the authority to divide disposable retired pay upon divorce.

We'll continue discussing the USFSPA in our next post …

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about military divorce or another family law issue, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about the law, your rights and your options.  

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