When military spouses divorce, a federal law — the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act — allows state courts to treat military retirement pay as property subject to the state’s property division laws. In Dallas, this means that community property law will govern the division of military retirement pay.

However, there are a few additional provisions of the USFSPA that need to be taken into consideration, in addition to factors like jurisdiction that we discussed in our previous post. We’ll take a quick look at these provisions below. Based on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website, the summary is intended as general information only, not specific legal advice.

For one thing, the state court’s order must use clear, acceptable language that provides enough information to calculate the payment amounts. It must state the award as either a percentage of disposable retired pay, or else a specific amount. A former spouse seeking a percentage of military retirement pay might be directed to obtain a new court order of the language is unacceptable.

In addition, the couple must have been married for at least 10 years, with the service member earning at least 10 years of service towards retirement pay eligibility during the marriage. This is known as the 10/10 rule. If these requirements aren’t met, it may still be possible to obtain a percentage of military retirement pay in a divorce — it just won’t be enforceable through the USFSPA itself.

Federal laws and state laws, as we have seen in this week’s discussion, can both have repercussions for property division in a military divorce. A legal professional can help divorcing spouses navigate this sometimes confusing landscape and ensure their rights and interests are protected.

Source: DFAS.mil, “Frequently Asked Questions,” accessed on Jan. 16, 2016