People mistakenly believe many myths when it comes to legal matters, particularly in divorce cases. One in particular that our legal team seems to have to constantly refute is a spouse’s right to their ex’s military retirement benefits.
According to Kentucky law, military retirement pay is a divisible marital asset. This means a service member's spouse has an interest in the retirement pay. It’s a common misconception that a former partner can get a portion of their retirement only if they were married for 10 years or more. This simply isn’t true.
The fact is, a servicemember’s former spouse has a right to a portion of their retired pay, no matter how long they were married. Let us explain.
Military Divorce and Retirement Benefits
The reason many service members believe this “10-year or more” myth is because there is a rule that indicates a former spouse can’t receive their portion of retirement benefits directly from the government unless the parties:
- Were married for 10 years or more while;
- The service member performed 10 or more years of military service
This is known as the 10/10 overlap. Now, if the parties meet the 10/10 overlap, an ex can file paperwork with the Defense Finance Accounting Service in order to receive the correct percentage of benefits each month.
However, even if the parties don’t qualify for the 10/10 overlap, the former spouse is still entitled to benefits with this stipulation: the government isn’t responsible for collecting funds and distributing them. Instead, the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the ex to collect their percentage of retirement benefits each month directly from the service member.
As you might expect, many problems arise with this process. Often, the parties have lost touch, and the former spouse doesn’t have the correct contact information or know where the retired service member is living.
If you have any questions about military divorce retirement benefits, please contact a family law attorney to understand your rights and get further assistance.
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For nearly half a century, Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey has been one of the most respected firms in the region for providing families with the essential financial and legal knowledge they need to thrive. We serve clients throughout Central Kentucky, including Hardin County, Meade County, LaRue County, Breckinridge County, and Grayson County. Please contact our office to schedule a consultation.