One of the most common questions that United States service members have about divorce is how military pensions will be handled. The answer is that the distribution of these pensions is governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act. If you are a service member or married to a service member and are now facing a divorce, there are several important details that you should know about how these pensions must be handled.

Length of Service Pension Qualification

A length of service pension is a type of deferred compensation that service members are awarded if they have served a period of at least 20 years in the military or gained the necessary points in the reserves. Veterans also must be honorably discharged to be considered eligible for a length of service pension.

The Receipt of Pension

If a veteran satisfies the eligibility requirements for a length of service pension, the veteran’s spouse will also become entitled to receive part of that pension. The exact amount that a spouse will receive is influenced by numerous factors including the length of the marriage, the veteran’s length of military services, and agreements between the spouses regarding marital property.

Where to Pursue a Divorce with a Service Member

Deciding exactly where to initiate a divorce case against a service member can be particularly challenging. You are permitted to initiate a divorce against a service member in any state where that service member is stationed as well as any state where you reside. In many situations, if you are interested in initiating a divorce against a service member, it helps to first contact a seasoned divorce lawyer who can help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of various ways to pursue a divorce.

How Pensions are Divided

Pensions are divided through either deferred division or present-value offset. Under the more common, deferred division approach, a veteran is required to pay a portion of pension to a former spouse from the moment the veteran begins receiving money from the pension. In accordance with the present-value offset, the parties agree to trade money or property against the current value of the pension. Assuming that the parties have other assets that are equal in value to military pension, a former spouse is able to obtain certain assets rather than claim a share of the pension. There is no one universal solution to how a pension should be divided. Instead, numerous factors about the couple’s relationship and financial status should be taken into consideration before deciding how to divide the pension.

Speak with an Experienced Family Law Attorney

An experienced family law attorney can help answer the numerous questions that you might have about a years of service pension plan. While the body of law that controls these pensions is particularly complicated, the legal team at Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C. can help you navigate this process. Contact our law office today to schedule an initial case evaluation.