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A military divorce can affect your pension

Joining the military changes almost all aspects of your life. It might even change how you get divorced. While the process is generally the same as it is for civilians, a military divorce comes with some extra issues than can carry long-term effects. Not only will you have to address issues concerning deployments and the custody of your children, you will also have to consider the impact the divorce will have on your retirement.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act is in place to provide protections for spouses and children after a military divorce. Furthermore, the Act changes the normal classification of military retirement benefits from income to property. Since military divorce can be just as complicated as civilian divorce so it is important to seek appropriate counsel. An experienced divorce attorney in the Gulfport area can help you through the entire process. Read further for more information how your divorce can affect your retirement.

The 10-year rule

In order for your spouse to be eligible to receive a share of your retirement benefits, your marriage must have lasted for 10 years that overlaps with at least 10 years of military service. This means that if you were married for 15 years and you were a service member for eight of those years, your spouse is not entitled to direct retirement payments. However, if you were in the service for 10 of those 15 years of marriage, then your spouse is entitled to payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).

Maximum payments

An ex-spouse is entitled to receive a maximum of 50 percent of your military retirement benefits. After you submit an order for direct payments, it takes approximately three months for the order to go through processing and your ex to begin receiving benefits. If you are still an active service member at the time of your divorce, the payments will not begin until 90 days after you retire. If your settlement includes child support paid from the pension, then that amount combines with the 50 percent your ex is entitled to receive. However, 65 percent is the maximum that will be deducted from your pension.

Calculating pension shares

There are several different methods to calculate how much of your pension your ex-spouse should receive. As part of your divorce, your attorney will have to provide the court with a document that states and explains the method that determines the amount of the payments. The three methods that are commonly used are Net Present Value, Deferred Distribution, and Reserve Jurisdiction. The length of your marriage will play a part in determining which method to use.

If you are facing a military divorce, it is important to understand the differences you might encounter compared to a civilian divorce. Issues such as custody and the division of retirement benefits may be difficult to negotiate.

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