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Military Divorce

Military Divorce: The 10/10 Rule

By July 15, 2020May 4th, 20212 Comments

Divorce is already a complex matter under normal circumstances. If you are a member of the U.S. military, the process can be even more complicated. Your pay, retirement plan, and benefits can be affected by divorce proceedings. It’s important that you understand your rights and options if you choose to end your marriage, and it’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced divorce attorney. 

How Can Divorce Affect Your Military Pay?

When it comes to your active-duty pay, some of that income can be court-ordered for child support. In a military divorce, just 60% of the service member’s income can go towards child support. If you remarry and are supporting a new family, that figure is reduced to 50%. 

The 10/10 Rule With Military Divorce

If you’ve been in the military for twenty years or more, you are eligible for retirement benefits. In some cases, there are early retirement options provided by the military. 

Both federal and state laws can impact a divorce when one spouse is a military service member. Congress passed the Uniformed Service Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) in 1982, which states that the way military retirement benefit distribution happens will depend on state law. 

Since Washington is a community property state, the family law court could award your spouse a portion of your retirement benefits. Under the 10/10 rule, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will automatically honor a court order and split those assets if your divorce decree states the following:

  • The marriage lasted at least 10 years; and
  • Ten years of marriage overlapped with 10 years of active duty military service. 

It’s important to note that you don’t need to be married ten years for your spouse to be entitled to a portion of your retirement pay. The 10/10 rule is a requirement for DFAS to honor the court’s order.

How Divorce Impacts Other Crucial Areas

There are also several rules that affect your spouse’s eligibility to receive other military benefits upon divorce. The 20/20/20 rule states that a former spouse of a service member may be entitled to benefits, such as health care, if:

  • The marriage lasted at least 20 years; 
  • The service member has at least 20 years of creditable service during the marriage; and
  • There is no other medical coverage available under an employer-sponsored plan.

There is also a 20/20/15 rule that applies to Tricare health insurance for former spouses. A former spouse may be able to receive these benefits if:

  • The marriage lasted at least 20 years;
  • The service member has at least 20 years of creditable service; and
  • The service member performed at least 15 years of service during the marriage.

If you or your spouse are serving in the armed forces and are seeking a divorce in Washington State, it’s important that you speak with an experienced family law attorney. Begin planning now to protect your financial security. 

At AB Law, we understand the complex rules involved with military divorce and can advocate for your interests. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation

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