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Assistance re Military Retirements Benefits for Spouses
Old 08-28-2009, 06:29 PM   #1
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Assistance re Military Retirements Benefits for Spouses

An acquaintance of my wife has ask for assistance regarding her military benefits. Her husband abruptly said he wanted a divorce and has been a cad about it. We are limiting our involvement but I thought I would inquire here about how she would check to see what benefits she could expect and who she could contact on base. Her husband is retired military (not sure which service) and they have bee married for seven years. So, an initial question might be if she is entitled to part of his retirement. Also, who on base would she see about this? Where would she start? There are both Air Force and Army bases nearby. Thanks for your help.

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Old 08-28-2009, 07:44 PM   #2
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While I will take a stab at this, I am by far no expert, and I won't even guarantee this is right. However, I think it has been said on here before, that it is the divorce decree that decides what she gets and the military has nothing to do with it other than carrying out the decree. My guess if you wanted to check on base, I would check with the Judge Advocate Office.
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Old 08-28-2009, 08:57 PM   #3
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Just like Rustic23, I am no expert. But my recollection is that military pensions are considered community property. So I believe a divorcing wife has a claim on the military pension of a retired spouse. I don't know how it works when the marriage has been as short as 7 years. I do know of guys who were married from the beginning of their militay careers, got divorced after they retired and then had to split the retirement checks with their former spouses. I don't know if it is propotional, so perhaps your friend would be entitled to whatever percentage 7 years would be of her former husband's retirement.

Something like this needs an attorney who is versed on such matters.
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Old 08-29-2009, 09:23 AM   #4
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There's federal law concerning this. I believe it's called the Military Former Spouses Protection Act, or something to that effect. 10 years is the magic number. Meaning the marriage had to be a minimum of 10 years, and those 10 years had to be while the spouse was in the military. The law provides the ex can get a certain percentage of retired pay. I don't recall what that percentage is, but it's fairly significant.

This isn't automatic. The ex has to go to court and get it awarded.

This law is very controversial with many retirees. Sometimes ex's discover the law many years after the divorce, and create unforseen financial problems for the retired service member. Military pensions are ungarnishable for about everything else.
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:11 AM   #5
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Thanks for your help and more is appreciated.

From what I can find on the web so far it seems like she may get no benefits because of the shortness of the marriage and the fact that they married after he retired. She may get medical benefits for a short period of time after the divorce. It seems that any of his military retirement pay is subject to the divorce settlement. Perhaps too, SBP seems to be negotiable in the settlement too. That is, the annuity may be in her name if he passes away (and he signed up for SBP in the first place)

Currently she may need financial assistance during the proceedings and I wonder if she can go to the base and have part of his retirement funds provided to her during the settlement. According to her, he drained all their savings accounts including her son's trust fund (from her previous deceased husband). Again, according to her, most of these savings were funds she inherited when her previous husband died.

Of course, I know there are two sides to every divorce but I know too from working as a volunteer telephone crisis counselor (many years ago) that people can be real #$%holes to each other when a marriage dissolves. I want to limit my involvement to just seeing that she sees the proper people and gets any help she needs.

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Old 08-29-2009, 07:46 PM   #6
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Here's the official document from the DFAS site:

If she met the 10 year requirement it would be a slam dunk. Other than that, it probably will come down to who has the best lawyer.
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:58 PM   #7
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Her husband abruptly said he wanted a divorce and has been a cad about it.
Giving advise on matters like this should be referred to a qualified divorce attorney. A military lawyer, while cost effective, may not be the best final answer.

Getting yourself involved in this is not helpful to anyone unless you are an attorney.
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