How will the USFSPA affect your military divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2022 | Divorce |

If you and your military spouse are facing divorce, you will find that different rules apply as compared with those of a standard divorce proceeding.

The division of the military member’s retired pay is one such example and the USFSPA has a bearing on the way the court divides that pay during a divorce.

About the USFSPA

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) became effective in 1982. The Act allows courts to regard disposable retired pay either as the property of the military member only or as the property of both the military member and spouse. All 50 states treat a military pension as marital property.

The 10-year issue

You may believe that the courts can only divide military retired pay if a marriage has lasted for 10 years or more. However, a court can award a portion of this money to a former spouse even if the marriage lasted less than a year. However, for the Department of Defense to make direct payments to a former spouse, the marriage must have endured for at least 10 years with a 10-year military service overlap that can be credited to retired pay.

Jurisdiction provision

Under the USFSPA, the court can divide military retired pay as long as it has jurisdiction over the military member in the following circumstances:

  • The military member’s residence is within the territorial jurisdiction of the court
  • The military member’s domicile is within the territorial jurisdiction of the court
  • The military member gives consent to the jurisdiction of the court

Seeking help

Your attorney can provide further information on USFSPA requirements as you approach your divorce proceedings. You can also rely on legal guidance if you question whether or not your former spouse is eligible to receive certain additional military benefits and privileges.


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