Pensions, Divorce and the Military Retirement System

The Military Retirement System provides benefits to members of the uniformed forces:

Examples: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Reserves, National Guard, Public Health Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When a Retired Pay Court Order is drafted, monthly benefits will commence to the Alternate Payee when the Member retires, and will continue for the lifetime of the Member. If the Alternate Payee is entitled to a Survivor Benefit Plan Annuity (SBP), such monthly annuity shall commence upon the Member's death, and continue for the lifetime of the Alternate Payee.

Some Key Facts to Remember:

To draft an order to effectuate a division of a benefit for purposes of equitable distribution, the parties must have been married for 10 years while the member was in active duty. If they have not been married for 10 years of active duty service, the order must be structured to effectuate support payments.

In order for an Alternate Payee to be eligible for a Survivor Benefit Plan Annuity (SBP), the Member must make such an election within one year of the divorce. If this election is not made, the Alternate Payee loses all rights to this benefit.

If the Alternate Payee remarries prior to reaching 55, he/she will not be entitled to a Survivor Benefit Plan Annuity under the guidelines of the Plan.



Suggested Reading
Pension Issues in Divorce Pension Issues in Divorce
When couples get divorced they must decide how to divide their property. Retirement benefits (pensions) often form a substantial part of the parties' total marital estate and many times are the largest single marital asset afforded the couple. Similar to other assets, pensions are typically divisible in cases of divorce to the extent that they are acquired during the period of marriage.

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PENSIONS PROBLEMATIC -- Pensions become problematic because, unlike cash in the bank or stocks and bonds, the rights to them involve 1) classification, 2) valuation and distribution, 3) qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs), and 5) miscellaneous areas of contention, including, for example, postdecree increases.

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