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Military divorce and the USFSPA

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces enjoy numerous benefits due to their service to the country. Their spouses may also enjoy many of those benefits, at least during the marriage. Whether they get to keep those benefits after a military divorce depends on how the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act applies to the situation.

The USFSPA allows courts here in California and elsewhere to make a determination regarding the division of military retirement pay. This keeps military families from having to go through a separate process in order for a former spouse to receive this benefit. Under certain circumstances, the former civilian spouse may even be able to receive payments for his or her portion of the service member's retirement directly from the government.

The USFSPA does not give the courts a formula by which to award military retirement. It also does not indicate a predetermined amount or put a limit on the amount of disposable retirement income that can be awarded. Those decisions are left to the parties and the courts. Some former spouses may retain access to military facilities for medical care, exchange and commissary services.

In order to gain a better understanding of what benefits a former spouse could retain the right to in the aftermath of a divorce from a service member, it would more than likely be a good idea to discuss the matter with a California attorney with experience in military divorce. In fact, this could make all the difference under the circumstances. Military benefits may not be the only issues the parties must resolve that must meet with certain government regulations, such as the implementation of a family care plan when it comes to child custody.

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