In a civilian divorce, property division, child support and other factors will all be based on the laws of the state court system. If one or more of the divorcing spouses are military servicemen or servicewomen, there will be federal laws to consider as well, among them the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act.

We took a high-level view of the USFSPA in our last post. Let’s take a closer look now at how some of the law’s provisions might play out for couples in Dallas with questions about a possible military divorce. What does the law mean for them?

One important point of which to be aware is that the USFSPA caps the amount of a service member’s disposable income that a former spouse can receive at 50 percent. Disposable income here is equal to gross pay minus any authorized deductions. Such deductions may include retired pay forfeited according to a court-martial order or waivers of retired pay in exchange for Title 38 or Title 5 compensation.

Within that 50 percent cap, the USFSPA does provide for direct payments to a former spouse. To apply, the former spouse must complete DD Form 2293, Application for Former Spouse Payments from Retired Pay (available online). For whatever awards enforcement is sought, the former spouse will need to include a copy of a certified court order, as well as documentation that the requirements of the 10/10 Rule have been met.

It’s possible that a former spouse might be notified that his or her application requires a new order clarifying the nature of the retirement pay as a property award. This essentially means that the language in your court order does not meet the standards of the USFSPA. It may be necessary to seek a clarification from the judge.

Fortunately, a legal professional can assist with this type of request. While this blog post constitutes general information only and not specific legal advice, military divorce presents a number of complexities for which couples often rely on experienced legal representation.


Source: Defense Finance and Accounting Service, “Former Spouses Protection Act Frequently Asked Questions,” accessed on March 9, 2015