To say divorce isn’t fun is a massive understatement, and for military couples, the process comes with even more obstacles. But, that doesn’t mean it has to be all- encompassing, or surprising. Being prepared is the best way to move forward and be well equipped for life after the papers are signed.
First things first
Typically, a military service member must have 20 years of active service before their pension vests. Additionally, these 20 years must be credible, or “good.” In military terms, years are tallied by points. In order to have “good year,” you must have at least 50 points. Points are given through actions, such as active days of service, attending a drill, or performing a funeral honors duty, and each action is worth a different amount of points.
What does all this mean for your divorce?
A lot. In Indiana, if a military spouse’s pension has not vested as of the date the divorce is filed, the Court cannot award the non-military spouse a portion of it. In this respect, timing is everything and you will want to be sure to discuss this with your attorney before filing for divorce.
The number of years you’re married is also extremely important. Couples must be married at least 10 years with a 10-year overlap between active service and marriage in order for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to pay a portion of the military spouse’s retirement pensions to the ex-spouse directly. If you don’t qualify (haven’t been married 10 years or more), this doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. So long as the military spouse has a vested pension, a Court can still award a portion of the pension to the non-military spouse, but payments will need to made by the military spouse to non-military spouse instead of paid directly from DFAS.
In addition, if a military spouse acquires 20 years of active service, is married for 20 years, and has a 20-year overlap between the marriage and the military service, the nonmilitary spouse will receive full medical benefits after a divorce. Additionally, an expert can review and assign a value to the medical benefits (meaning free medical care and no premiums) to be considered by the Court when awarding property.
To learn more about your specific situation, military regulations, or legal counsel, contact author Abigayle M. Hensley at 765-637-9172.
The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.