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How the USFSPA applies in a military divorce

If you are the soon-to-be-ex-spouse of a military member, you may wonder how property division will affect you.

Although property division in a divorce must follow Texas law, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act also comes into play on your behalf.

The USFSPA explained

If, in the divorce order, the court awards you a share of the retired pay of your military spouse, the USFSPA ensures the enforcement of the order. Other military retirement benefits to consider include savings plans and survivor benefits. The USFSPA also enforces an order of alimony as well as current or overdue child support payments. However, to qualify for retired pay benefits, the length of your marriage must have been at least 10 years. During that time, your spouse must have served a minimum of 10 years “credible towards retirement eligibility” per the military 10/10 rule.

Longer service, more benefits

The USFSPA also provides eligible former spouses with continuing base exchange and commissary benefits, plus ongoing health care benefits under the 20/20/20 rule. This means that the service member spouse must have performed at least 20 years of creditable military service. In addition, your marriage must have endured for a minimum of 20 years and overlapped the service member’s period of service by no fewer than 20 years.

Making adjustments

If the marriage did not last long enough for you to qualify for continuing health care, you may still take advantage of the DOD Continued Health Care Benefit Program. This program will provide temporary coverage for 36 months if you enroll within 60 days of losing your military health care benefits.

Blending military and state law

Remember, a military divorce has many elements not present in a traditional divorce proceeding, and military aspects are entwined with state law. Explore your legal options to ensure you cover all the bases if you face a military divorce.

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