In general, a military divorce is like a civilian divorce. You will go to civilian court and go through the exact same process as anyone else. However, there are some special considerations and rules when it comes to certain aspects of your divorce because you are a member of the armed forces in Alaska.
Whether you are young, nearing retirement or already in retirement, you probably have concerns about your retirement pay and whether your wife has any claim to it. The Defense Finance and Accounting Services explains that there is not a rule or law that says she automatically gets a portion of your retirement pay, but the state court can award her part of it. Essentially, the state court makes its own determination because the law does not mandate it, but it also does not limit it.
When it comes to dividing military retirement pay, there are a few things you should know. Sometimes, your best defense is in the details of the laws governing this type of property division.
- The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act: The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act is the main guidance for dividing military retirement benefits. It is under this law that the state court gets the authority to handle the division. This law also sets guidelines that a court must meet or follow when dividing the pay.
- The maximum limit: Your wife is not going to get all your retirement pay, but she could get a huge portion. The USFSPA states that she can get up to 50% after authorized deductions. She can get up to 65%, depending on the type of order the court submits.
- The 10/10 requirement: The main protection the USFSPA offers you is the 10/10 requirement. Under this requirement, the only way for your spouse to get direct payments of your retirement pay is if you served at least 10 years during a marriage that lasted for at least 10 years. Do note that your spouse may still get part of your benefits, but she cannot get direct payments if you do not meet this requirement.
The takeaway here is that the USFSPA sets strict rules for your wife’s access to your retirement pay. However, the state court is also given a lot of leeway when making decisions in allocating this pay.