If you work in the military and remain in the military for many years, you will accrue benefits that your spouse may share. If you and your spouse later get a divorce, it is possible that your military benefits could be considered marital property and be divided now or later in life, such as during retirement.
Divorces are complicated even among civilians, but being in the military does add another layer to a divorce. Depending on factors such as how long you’ve been married or how long you’ve been in the military, you could see your military benefits and retirement affected by your divorce.
Federal and state laws influence your military divorce
Both federal and state laws indicate that your spouse could be entitled to up to half of your military benefits. This is because Washington is a community property state, which means that all marital assets, including your retirement, will be divided 50-50. The court will have the final say in how your assets are distributed, too.
Your retirement pay may be divided by Washington law, but you may also be subject to the 10/10 provision of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act. With the 10/10 rule, a spouse is eligible to receive a portion of your retirement benefits if he or she was married to you, the member of the military, for at least 10 years while you served. The division of your retirement in this case is automatic, so your spouse could receive up to 50% of your retirement benefits without being notified.
Federally, your divorce may also be subject to the 20/20/20 rule. This states that if someone is married to a military service person for at least 20 years, the military member served for 20 years during that time, and they do not have medical coverage under their own employer-sponsored plan, then they may be entitled to military benefits until they remarry.
These are some important factors to look into during your divorce. Your spouse may be entitled to retirement as well as other benefits if they meet the right qualifications by law.