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How the blended retirement system will affect military divorce

The Blended Retirement System (BRS) goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. It will make some changes to the military retirement system and other military laws. Many Mississippians believe the BRS will increase the complexity of military divorce cases, and these cases may have different results, depending on the state the divorce is filed.

Under the new system, eligible service members who serve 20 years or more will receive a reduction in their traditional military pension. They will also receive one percent automatic and four percent matching contributions to their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), as well as mid-career continuation incentive bonuses.

Service members become fully vested once they begin their third year of service and contributions will end once they have served for 26 years. Active duty members with fewer than 12 years of service and reserve members with fewer than 4,320 retirement points may choose whether to opt in to BRS or remain under the current retirement system.

A retired Army Reserve JAG colonel believes that the BRS may come as a surprise to military spouses who divorced in 2017 and are not aware of the changes that the system will make to divorce settlements. For example, retirees will now receive 40, instead of 50 percent, of their High-3 base pay when retiring after 20 years. Additionally, former spouses who divorced in 2017 will not be legally entitled to any portion of the defined contribution TSP since it did not exist in 2017 and cannot be considered marital property.

The BRS may also affect spousal support and child support payments. Those involved in a military divorce should seek legal advice regarding the new BRS and how it will affect their particular situation.

Source: AmeriForce Media, "BRS and Military Divorce," Andrea Downing, Oct. 11, 2017

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