The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) allows former spouses of servicemembers to collect retirement benefits based on the servicemember’s work in the military. Basically, the law allows military disposable retired pay to be considered marital property, thus subjecting it to equitable division in a divorce action. A new bill being proposed in Congress could shake up the USFSPA by limiting a former spouse’s claim to the servicemember’s retirement pay.
As it currently stands, the pay that a veteran’s former spouse receives upon the veteran’s retirement is based on the veteran’s rank and years served at the time of retirement. This means that the former spouse would receive benefits based on the veteran’s service that occurs after the divorce. So, if a servicemember gets divorced after the first year in the Navy, for example, and goes on to serve for another 10 years, all of the advancement during those 10 years would factor into the former spouse’s share of the retirement benefits.
If the new proposal goes through, instead of the former spouse receiving benefits for the servicemember’s entire military career, including advancement post-divorce, the benefits would be limited to the service member’s rank and years served at the time of the divorce.
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If you are currently serving in the military or are the former spouse of a servicemember, it would be wise to keep an eye on this bill.
The Denver family law attorneys at Divorce Matters can help veterans navigate the complex issues of retirement benefits in divorce.