Divorce is difficult no matter if one is going through the dissolution process as a civilian or as a member of the U.S. armed forces. While there may not be a lot of difference between a civilian and service member divorce in Florida, how certain assets are treated is different. For example, military benefits and retirement funds may or may not be accessible to a non-service member spouse following a divorce.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act does allow non-service member spouses to keep some of the benefits to which they’ve become accustomed if the length of the marriage and their ex’s military services lasted a certain amount of time. For example, for one to collect retirement pay from a service member the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years and the military member must have been in the service just as long. This is known as the 10/10 requirement. To qualify for other benefits, marriage length and service time must overlap a much longer amount of time, generally 15 to 20 years.
If a non-service member spouse meets the 10/10 requirement to receive retirement benefits, he or she may claim as much as 50 percent of his or her former spouse’s retirement pay. If it is awarded as part of the divorce settlement, the receiving party can file an order with the Defense Finance and Accounting Services. Payments will start being made either after 90 days if the service member is already retired and collecting this benefit or 90 days after the service member is eligible to access retirement funds.
Military benefits and retirement funds are some of the biggest assets military couples in Florida have. Fighting to keep these benefits may be worth one’s time. A family law attorney who has experience handling military divorce can help non-service member spouses seek fair settlements that may include access to benefits and retirement funds.