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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

Changes to regulations for military divorces

When two people decide to dissolve their marriage, they must comply with state regulations. However, as Tennessee military members are probably aware, additional legalities exist when military earnings and pensions are involved. People who are in the military should stay informed about any regulation changes to avoid making potentially costly errors. One recent statutory change impacts the presentation format when applying for the division of military pay that's submitted to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service related to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act.

In a military divorce, a former spouse might claim a military member's retirement pay as property. If a divorce is finalized before the military member retires, his or her disposable income is limited to 'the amount of basic pay payable to the member for the member's pay grade and years of service at the time of the court order." This amount is also enhanced by any cost-of-living increases awarded between the divorce and the member's retirement.

The court orders must be formatted one of two ways depending on when the spouse entered service. They must include the amount, formula, percentage or hypothetical figure awarded to the spouse and the military member's years of creditable service or creditable reserve points at the time of service. Court orders for members who entered the service before September 8, 1980, must also include their pay grades at the time of their divorces. Those who entered service after this date must include the actual dollar figures of their high-3 amounts at the time of their divorces. Any paperwork errors can delay the process and require the court to clarify the award.

Lawyers can provide invaluable assistance in military divorce cases. An attorney can provide information on both state laws and military regulations.

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