Texas divorce cases involving a spouse who is or was a member of the military can present some unique and complicated issues. Among these matters is addressing a military pension during a divorce.
General rules regarding military pensions and divorce
The general rules regarding pensions in a military divorce are established in a federal law known as the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act. 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 an asset of the military member and the spouse. The laws of a particular state dictate the manner of presumed ownership of the asset.
Texas is a community property state. As such, 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 50/50 between divorcing spouses unless there exists some compelling reason for a deviation from this standard.
Determining whether military pensions are assets of a marriage
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 caveat must be borne in mind. The U.S. Department of Defense will only make 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. An attorney may help the spouse understand their options.