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What happens to military pension after divorce?

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If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, or if you are currently involved in a divorce from a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you may have questions about the division of military pension once your marriage officially ends. Maybe you have concerns about having to share your pension with your former spouse, or maybe you feel you have a right to at least some of it and want to make sure you understand your future needs with regard to saving.

Regardless of your reason for asking, there are certain rules that govern how couples divide military pension in divorce. In Texas, which is a community property state, any money given to the military retirement account during the marriage becomes the property of both parties. However, any money placed in the account prior to the marriage remains the exclusive property of the military member.

Additional details

A common myth surrounding military pension in divorce involves the belief that a spouse can only gain access to it if the marriage with a military member lasted at least 10 years. In reality, however, states have the ability to pay a nonmilitary ex-spouse a portion of the military member's retirement pay, even if the couple does not meet the 10-year criteria.

However, in order for the nonmilitary spouse to be able to obtain direct retirement account payments from the U.S. Department of Defense, the marriage between the two parties must have lasted at least 10 years, and at least 10 years of the marriage had to coincide with one party in the marriage's 10 years of military service.

If you and your former spouse have an alimony or child support arrangement in place, this, too, can impact military retirement pay. When such orders exist, this limits the amount of retirement pay the party receiving alimony or child support may receive.

Ultimately, how much military pension you can expect to have to give up or receive depends on several factors, and every situation is different.

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