When servicemembers and their spouses in Texas decide to divorce, they may face unique concerns related to military status and benefits. Property division is often a serious worry during the end of a marriage, but the specific benefits linked to military service, including pensions, health care and exchange eligibility, may prompt even more uncertainty. However, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) addresses a number of these issues.
Dividing retirement pay in a divorce
One of the most common concerns is the division of retirement pay after military service. Here, the length of marriage and the length of service are both key factors. In order for the USFSPA to enforce property division, including a split of retirement pay, the spouses must have been married for at least 10 years. During that time, the servicemember must have performed at least 10 years of service that are credited toward retirement. In addition, the divorce decree must specify a division of retirement benefits in order for the law’s provisions to apply.
Length of marriage and service is essential
Commissary, exchange and health care benefits can also arise as issues in a divorce. Here, the marriage length and time in service are also critical. In order for a former spouse to continue to access these benefits, the couple must have been married for at least 20 years, the servicemember must have spent at least 20 years in the military, and these must have at least 20 years of overlap. These provisions are intended to provide protection for former spouses who spent much of their lives as a military spouse.
Military members considering divorce may also be concerned about other aspects of military regulations as well as asset division. A military family law attorney may provide advice and representation and work to negotiate a fair solution to many divorce legal matters.