Dividing Military Pensions
Legal Assistance For Military Personnel and Military Spouses
Divorce is never easy and when one or both spouses are a member of the military, there is an added layer of complexity. Military divorces are challenging, in part, because they are governed by both state and federal law, whereas civilian divorces generally only involve state law.
At the Weller Law Firm in Belleville, Illinois, due to the proximity of Scott Air Force Base we are familiar with the legal protections afforded to service members and their families in the event of divorce. With over 18 years of experience, family law attorney Stan Weller is prepared to protect your rights and interests.
Call us now to get started. Early planning can ease the stress involved in the divorce process. Call 618-277-3476 for a free consultation.
Understanding The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act
The Federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) gives state courts authority to divide military retirement benefits under local laws. This means that your military pension is subject to Illinois’ equitable property division laws. However, military pensions are not handled exactly the same as a civilian pension or 401k, so it is important to work with an attorney who has experience dividing military pensions for Scott Air Force Base Families.
The USFSPA is a very complex law, and while it provides that your pension can be divided per Illinois law, special considerations apply, including:
- The 10x10 rule: Many people believe the myth that if you were married to a military member for 10 years or more, you can take half of the pension. This is not true. However, this myth comes from the 10x10 rule. A nonmilitary spouse can only receive payments directly from the pension if at least 10 years of the marriage overlapped with military service. Spouses who do not meet this requirement can still receive a portion of the military pension, but the military spouse will have to mail the recipient monthly checks. Experienced attorneys, like Stan Weller, may recommend an alternative, such as substituting a more straightforward asset in lieu of pension benefits.
- Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP): Unless the court order that divides the servicemember’s retirement pay includes SBP coverage for the civilian ex-spouse, the ex-spouse’s pension benefits will end upon the servicemember’s death. As a civilian spouse, it is critical to ensure a court order requires your spouse to list you as SPB beneficiary. A skilled lawyer can help you accomplish this.
- REDUX program: Prior to the military member reaching the 15th year of military service, the military member has an option to receive a substantial career status bonus, but opting for this plan affects the amount of money he or she will receive at the time of retirement. Your attorney must consider the effects that the REDUX retirement program can have on the division of your pension, as well as the division of the potential bonus.
These are just three factors, among many others, that should be addressed by your family law attorney. Dividing retirement benefits properly is a critical step in the divorce process. As our client, we will work diligently to help ensure you understand your options to protect your long-term interests.
Learn More About Dividing Military Pensions In Divorce. Call Today.
We can begin teaching you about your options and building a strong strategy during a free, confidential legal consultation. Schedule your consultation today by email, or call 618-277-3476 or toll free 888-446-6538.