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Military retirement benefits in a divorce

For many couples in Maryland who get divorced, splitting up retirement assets can be something that happens during the property division negotiations. When one of the spouses is a member of the United States military, their military retirement benefits may then well be shared between both parties. This is pursuant to a law that has been in place since 1982.

As explained by Military.com, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act gives states the right to decide if or how one spouse’s military pension may be divided in a marital divorce. There is no minimum length of time that a couple must have been married in order for a judge to award a portion of the military spouse’s retirement pay to the non-military spouse. There is, however, a maximum amount that can be awarded to the non-military spouse if the final divorce settlement also includes an award for child support, spousal support or both.

According to Military One Source, while the USFSPA allows a judge to split a military retirement account in a divorce, it does not mandate that this should happen. The law also does not provide any parameters about how to determine the amount to award to the non-military partner except for the maximum percent when coupled with alimony or child support awards.

In order for a judge to legally dictate that a military retirement should be split in a divorce, the service member must either have a legal residence in the state in which the judge rules or the service member must agree to give the judge jurisdiction over the case.