Understanding Military Pensions in Divorce
Divorce proceedings can be messy and complicated, but Texas divorce cases involving a spouse who is or was a member of the military can present some truly unique challenges. For this reason, it’s almost always best to hire an experienced military divorce attorney to help sort through the more convoluted and tedious issues within a military divorce. One of the issues to determine is determining how to address a military pension during a divorce. In this month’s article, we’ll look at how military pensions are handled during divorce in Texas.
Guidelines for Military Pensions and Divorce
As a servicemember (or spouse of one), you’re probably already aware that the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act establishes the general guidelines regarding pensions in a military divorce. Enacted in 1982, this legislation grants each state in the country the ability to treat a military pension as either the sole property of the military member or as a joint asset of the military member and the spouse. Through this act, the laws of a particular state dictate the manner of presumed ownership of the asset.
You’re probably also aware that Texas is a community property state. Due to that, the presumption in divorce proceedings is that all marital assets are deemed to be equally owned by both spouses. The assets and debts acquired during the marriage are to be split completely evenly between divorcing spouses, unless there exists some compelling reason for a deviation from this standard.
How Does Community Property Affect Military Pensions?
In some divorce cases, ascertaining whether a military pension is a marital asset or to what extent such a retirement plan is a marital asset can prove challenging. In the final analysis, the facts and circumstances surrounding a marriage and what is and is not a marital asset will be determined by the court during divorce proceedings.
One important distinction, though, is that the U.S. Department of Defense will only pay out a portion of retirement benefits to a former servicemember’s spouse if that servicemember spent 10 years or more in the military. Otherwise, a payment of military pension proceeds granted to a spouse in a divorce must be made by some other means – typically by the servicemember themselves. An experienced military divorce attorney may help the spouse understand their options.