How To Divide Military Retired Pay

Why Hasn't My Pay Been Deposited?

Anytime I write about the ability to divide military retirement pay in a divorce property settlement agreement, lots of comments reference how difficult it is to write a good division.  I agree, and I also disagree.  It is tricky, and it requires serious consideration of all the involved variables, but it isn’t actually hard.  And, thankfully, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has written a super-fantastic guide that helps to explain how the divisions can and can not be worded.

Note:  This post is not about how the individual parties in a divorce may come to an agreement about the division of military retirement pay, nor is it about how the state courts may decided if the divorcing parties can not come to an agreement and take the issue to court.  This post is about how to word the final property settlement in a way that meets the requirements for DFAS to administer the agreed-upon settlement.

The federal government and DFAS have no role in determining any award in a divorce settlement; that is the responsibility of the state courts.  However, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) provides for DFAS to administer the court-ordered division of military retirement pay for marriages that lasted more than ten years and coincided with at least ten years of active duty military service.

Because of all the variables that can come into play, DFAS has strict requirements that any order dividing military retirement pay must be written in a clear, unambiguous form.  To help the divorcing parties, their lawyers, and the courts, their pamphlet, “Dividing Military Retirement Pay,” has sample language for every conceivable situation, including:

  • fixed dollar amount,
  • percentage of disposable retirement pay,
  • percentage of a “marital fraction” of disposable retirement pay, including calculations for active duty retirement and reserve retirements,
  • percentage of hypothetical retirement based upon pay scale and rank at date of divorce, and
  • percentage of retirement pay based upon pay table in effect that the member becomes retirement eligible.

As you can see, there are a wide number of ways in which the parties can choose to craft a division of military retirement pay.  Getting the language right isn’t always obvious, which is why DFAS has issued this brochure and included sample language for each situation.  The packet also includes many examples of language that doesn’t fit the requirements for DFAS to administer the division of retirement pay.

Faulty language is the number one cause of rejected claims for DFAS to divide military retirement pay, and it often requires a return to the lawyers or courts to have the language modified to an acceptable format.  Getting it right the first time will decrease the stress and costs of the already stressful and costly process of divorce.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • EDDIE W. CREECH

    I WAS TOLD THAT IF MY WIFE WAS NOT MARRIED TO ME FOR A PERIOD OF 10(TEN YEARS) SHE IS NOT ENTITALED TO NONE OF MY RETIREMENT PAY. NOW SOMEONE TELL ME THAT SHE CAN. I WISH YOU ALL WOULD GET IT TOGATHER SO I CAN GET MY DIVORCE AND GET ON WITH MY LIFE. I WILL NOT GIVE UP MY RETIREMENT PAY IF THIS TRUE THAT I HAVE TO PAY HER. IF ANYONE SHOULD GET IT. IT WOULD BE MY X WIFE I WAS MARRIED TO FOR 17 YEARS ON ACTIVE DUTY. so what is the verdict?

    • charlie

      To the extent a portion of your military retirement was earned during your current marriage, the court can award a fractional interest to your current spouse. However, if your current marriage has not lasted for at least 10 years, your soon to be ex-wife cannot receive payment directly from Defense Finance. The court must order you to pay her directly.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Remember, that “10 years” must also overlap your service time – it’s a dual requirement – – – service AND marriage overlap of at least 10 years to be eligible for direct payment from DFAS by garnishee order ! And no career military member “earns” retired pay – they only “earn” the privilidge to request transfer to the retired reserve and if their request is approved, they will receive reduced current PAY for life.

    • Gerald Walley

      She is only entitled if you were married 10+ yrs during which you were on either active duty or drilling / active reserve. Strongly advise you to set a fixed dollar amount in the event she IS entitled. Otherwise if a percentage is specified, any time you get an annual COLA increase, her entitlement will increase accordingly. Been there, done/doing that!

      • guest

        No Gerald you are incorrect. They could be married as little as a year and she has the “right” to fight for a portion of the retirement. HOWEVER, in general the time they were married would have had to have overlapped his military service. But a judge can throw in a wildcard and even nullify that.

        • USFSPA Killer

          There are cases on file where there has been NO “OVERLAP” of maraige and service and a KANGAROO COURT JUDGE has awarded retired pay to a vicious and vindictive broomrider !

      • USFSPA Killer

        Gerald – The “10-year” requirement is only for DFAS to operate a court order garnishee against the member’s retired pay. You need to read the USFSPA law @ 10 USC 1408 (d) (2) !

    • Pedro a rivera

      I was married for 8 years while on active duty, my ex-wife hired a lawyer and took me to court for 50% of my retiremen and lost the case and of course didn’t get a penny for herself. I only had to pay child support for my son.

      • USFSPA Killer

        Where (city, state) is the court that denied her a share of your retired pay ?

    • guest

      Reference US Statute Title 10 SS 1414. You are to get your military retirement and Disability when you are over 50% disabled. It says Military Retirement, not CRSC or CRDP.

      • USFSPA Killer

        That “Disability” as you call it, is named CRDP – Concurrent Retirement Disability PAY – yes, it is taxable and divisible ! DFAS pays CRDP, depending on your VA Rating of at least 50%.

        • CHARLIE

          100% CORRECT

      • Watchin’ the fun

        The correct citation for a federal law is USC, not “SS”.

    • CHARLIE

      WELL, VERY INTERESTING. IF YOU WERE LEGALLY MARRIED TO ONE FOR 17 YEARS, THEN YES SHE GETS A PORTION. NOW IF YOU REMARRIED AGAIN, WITH THIS MARRIAGE ONLY LASTING LESS THAN 10 YEARS,YOU’LL HAVE TO INQUIRE AT YOUR LOCAL VA AND JURISDICTION, BECAUSE THERE ARE SOME CASES WITH CLIENTS AND EXCELLENT LAWYERS THAT CAN STILL MAKE A CASE FOR SOME OF THAT RETIREMENT BUCKS, DUE TO SPECIFIC INCIDENCES. REMEMBER RETIREMENT MONEY IS AN ASSET, WHICH IS SUBJECT TO ACCOUNTABILITY AND ACCESS BY A SPOUSE, BECAUSE IT IS OF TOTAL COMMON HOUSEHOLD PROPERTY. SORRY BUT TRUE.

      • Kate

        Charlie, there is no time limit related to the ability to divide military retirement pay. Depending on the settlement agreements, a 17 year marriage may not result in divided military retirement, and a shorter marriage may result in a divided military retirement. It is a case-by-case situation.

  • Mar

    I am paying 50% of my retirement pay to my ex-wife, would she still be receiving 50% of my retirement pay once I am a 100% disable?
    Or would I still be receiving retirement pay instead of the VA giving me a 100% disability pay?

    • david

      IF you retire from the military and are disabled (service-connected) you are entitled to both VA disability and retired pay.

      • Fred

        That’s a misnomer too. Your retired pay is reduced so that when you add your disability check and your retired pay together, it comes up to the same amount it would be if you had no disability at all. It should be FULL retired pay and then disability pay on top of that, but then again, that would only have to someone in congress.

        • guest

          Fred, look up concurrent receipt, prior to 2004 you would have been correct, not since CRDP was instituted though

          • Donnie

            Your retired pay is no longer offset or reduced by your VA disability. I retired 2 years ago and I receive both my military retirement for 28 years and also my VA disability for 70 percent. Also concerning divorce your retirement can be divided as seen by a judge but your VA can’t. You can however be hit with alimony by a clever spouse to get some more from you since disability is untouchable.

          • USFSPA Killer

            With a 70% rating you can ask the VA to give you an EXTRASCHEDULAR rating of “IU” which is basically at 100% rating for the cash only.

          • DeHa

            The disability pay is added to your other (civilian) income for the spousal alimony monies. I am getting a percentage of his non disability pay and I am also getting alimony for the rest of my life which his disability money is included in.

          • Pia

            I need help. How did you go about fighting for this? My husband of 13 years just abandoned me and my children for a woman he’s been having an affair with. He is medically retired from the Army and found 100% disabled with VA benefits. Please Help Us!

          • Kate

            Pia, you need to make this part of your property settlement agreement. I strongly suggest you get a smart lawyer who thoroughly understands military benefits. If your husband is receiving VA benefits, this makes thing more complicated. You need professional help! Good luck to you!

          • USFSPA Killer

            Pia – Did he complete at least 20 years in the Army or was he “boarded out” with less than 20 years ? If he was boarded out, then he gets PDRL and not regular retired pay from DFAS. DFAS can’t accept a 2293 application because DFAS doesn’t pay him if he gets PDRL from the Army. The Army pay center won’t accept a 2293 either. Not legal advice.

          • USFSPA Killer

            It’s golddiggers like this that assist crony lawyers and judges in getting around federal laws that protect VA Disability Comp from attachment or garnishee. Lifetime alimony is unconscionable !

          • USFSPA Killer

            The 10-year step restoration of retired pay while receiving CRDP ended in December 2014. Did you retire before Dec 2014 ?

        • CHARLIE

          YES, JANUARY OF 2004

        • CHARLIE

          FALSE !!!!!!!!! CHECK YOUR FACTS BROTHER. YOU RECEIVE BOTH RETIREMENT AND DISABILITY PAY FROM VA AND DOD, SINCE 4 JANUARY 2004. WHAT YOU STATED EARLIER WAS BEFORE JANUARY 2004. IF YOU HAVEN’T RECEIVED IT LIKE THAT SINCE JANUARY 2004, YOU NEED TO APPLY AT ANY VA OFFICE IMMEDIATELY, AND YOU’LL RECEIVE BACK PAY AS “RETRO PAY”, AND THEN RECEIVE IT CORRECTLY THERE AFTER MONTHLY.

      • CHARLIE

        YES, BUT CHECK OUT THE AMOUNT OF DISABILITY, TO BE SURE WHAT THE NUMBERS ARE BEFORE YOU COUNT YOUR CHICKENS.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Currently, only 20-year service time or more retirees are entitled to “CRDP” if they are rated AT LEAST 50% by the Vet’s Admin. It’s called “concurrent receipt”. CRDP IS divisible by the CRDP law as well as being taxable. Any VA rating under 50% ( 10%, 20%, 30% and 40%) you still waive the dollar for dollar from retired pay to get the same amount of VA Disability – there is NO CRDP below 50%.

      • John

        CRDP is also payable if you retire under TERA (Temporary Early Retirement Authority). I know because I retired with 18 years, 7 months and DFAS is paying me. That is as good an authority as I need. Also, my ex wife, who was medically retired for MS after 12 years, received NO relief from Concurrent receipt. Congress has not changed the chapter of the law that deals with medical retirements directed by the service branch. Only length of service retirements.

        • CHARLIE

          IF I’M CORRECT, YOUR WIFE DOESN’T RECEIVE CONCURRENT, MAINLY BECAUSE SHE WASN’T A NORMAL RETIREMENT. SHE WAS MEDICALLY DISCHARGE WITH A MEDICAL PERCENTAGE, AND THAT DOESN’T QUALIFY AS A MILITARY RETIREMENT. I KNOW A LOT OF EX-MILITARY LIKE SAYING OR PRONOUNCING IT “MEDICAL MILITARY RETIREMENT”, BUT IT IS NOT RETIREMENT. IT’S A DISCHARGE, WHICH IS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT REGULATION. THE ONLY THING SHE CAN DO IS TRY AND GET A HIGHER PERCENTAGE RATING/BENEFIT FROM THE VA, BUT SHE DOESN’T QUALIFY FOR CONCURRENT. HER BENEFIT IS BASED ON BASE PAY X TIME IN SERVICE(12 YRS) X PERCENT OF DISABILITY.

      • Earl

        Not true. Agent Orange related is exception.

    • Your VA pay is compensation for a service connected claims. The retired pay is what you get and is taxable.
      VA. Compensation is not taxable.

      Daniel Crockett
      Retired Army

      • CHARLIE

        100% CORRECT !!!!

    • CHARLIE

      RETIREMENT PAY AND DISABILITY PAY ARE DISBURSED FROM TWO DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS OF GOVERNMENT, AND EVEN IF YOU ARE 100% DISABLED. YOU STILL GET MILITARY RETIREMENT ALONG WITH THE SET AMOUNT FOR DISABILITY BY VA, WHICH IS THE COOL PART. SHE OR HE WOULD STILL GET THE SAME AMOUNT AGREED UPON AT THE CIVILIAN COURTS, BUT NOT YOUR DISABILITY PAY, WHICH IS AWARDED TO THE SERVICE MEMBER ONLY, AND IS TAX FREE !!! ENJOY !!!

      • Kate

        Charlie, this is not 100% accurate. Many retirees have their military retirement pay offset by the amount of their disability pay. There are numerous factors that play into how disability and retirement pay work together, and each situation is unique.

  • The defendant

    A question when l got divorced the decree states upon retirement age 60 The Plaintiff shall receive 50 percent of retirement. Shortly after the divorce she re married at that time l recv d info that she would lose rights to my A F Reserve retirement. Hopefully this is true. I start to receive it in approximately 1 yr.

    Thanks for your assistance

    • Guest

      Sorry to say defendant, retirement pay is considered a property division and not alimony. Getting re-married won’t stop it, believe me, I wish. In this case it really is till death do you part.

      • USFSPA Killer

        If your ex-wife passes away before you, the garnishee stops and it doesn’t get taken out of your retired payany more (sorry, no “back-pay” make-up – it’s GONE). If you die before your ex-wife, of course retired pay stops to BOTH YOU (you’re dead!) and your ex-wife because there is no more retired pay to divide. Retired pay can NOT be “willed” to the heirs of any recipient of retired pay or property !

        • Amanda

          That is not 100% correct. If she stipulated in the divorce to be listed on his SBP then even if he dies she still collects.

          • Hank

            SBP is decided solely by the military spouse not the retiree. Been there, opposed it, she still got it as her right.

          • USFSPA Killer

            Check that one time !

          • Kate

            What you say is true, Amanda, but what USFSPA Killer says is 100% correct. Military retired pay ends with the death of the service member.

            SBP benefits are different – they come out of a different pot of money and they belong to the beneficiaries.

          • USFSPA Killer

            DUH ! – That’s exactly what SBP is for !

          • USFSPA Killer

            Amanda – SBP has to be purchased by monthly premiums – if SBP isn’t purchased, coverage proceeds aren’t available.

    • CHARLIE

      NOT TRUE !!!! FROM WHAT YOU STATED, I ASSUME YOU WERE IN THE A.F. RESERVE, BECAUSE RESERVIST RECEIVE RETIREMENT AT AGE 60, WHICH A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE NOT AWARE OF, ESPECIALLY MILITARY (ACTIVE DUTY, AND SOME RESERVIST). REMEMBER A COURT ORDER IS A COURT ORDER, AND THIS CASE, WITH ALL INFO CONCERNED AT THE TIME OF DIVORCED WERE ALL CALCULATED INTO THE EQUATION FOR THE FUTURE AS WELL. YOUR TERM OF MARRIAGE IS WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR IN THE DIVORCE. IT’S BASED ON YOUR LENGTH OF TIME MARRIED TO THE LADY. HER NEW MARRIAGE HAS NO BARING ON YOUR PAST TIME TOGETHER. IN OTHER WORDS, YOUR PASS DOESN’T ERASE YOUR FUTURE TO INCLUDE ANY UNFORSEEN FUTURE MARRIAGE. IT’S LIKE SAYING, ” SHOULD I PAY FOR THIS MORTGAGE SINCE I HAD PAID 30 YEARS OF MORTGAGE IN THE OTHER HOUSE”. OR EATING THE STEAK COMPLETELY AT A RESTURUANT AND THEN SAYING ” I DON’T WANT TO PAY FOR THAT LAST STEAK, JUST THIS ONE , BECAUSE IT TASTED BETTER” :-(

  • J R Doan

    Talk about something not right, I have been married to the same woderful woman for over 62 years after 29 years of active duty. If I preceed her in death, she wsill not get any of my retired pay. She probably earned more than half by make us a home and raising our kids while I was gone. She would defiitely need the 50% of my retired pay to live. Why not give her half of my retired pay when I go?

    • David

      If you elected to participate in the Survivor Benefit Program she will receive half of your retired pay. If you did not, she will get nothing.

      • Mark

        Shouldn’t have to pay into another program for your spouse to receive at least 50% once you pass. After all the government doesn’t have a problem giving it to an X spouse for all the time you paid, giving up the most productive part of your life. Just saying, not hating

        • Kate

          I don’t really see the connection between those two things. Can you explain?

          • USFSPA Killer

            Kate – Please specify the “two things” to which you don’t see the connection.

          • Kate

            In reply to Mark’s comment, I do not see the connection between the division of retirement pay and the Survivor Benefit Program.

          • USFSPA Killer

            By the USFSPA law, SBP premiums must be paid only from retired pay. However, many retirees have their former spouse reimburse the retiree by a former spouse allotment back to the retiree as former spouse payments can’t be garnished, but the f/s can make allotments.

          • Kate

            Yes, but that is not what Mark is saying in his comment. From the way I read it, he is saying that if military retired pay can be divided, then SBP should not require premiums. I don’t understand that logic.

          • USFSPA Killer

            Didn’t you previously argue with me that SBP is “an insurance plan” and therefore, needs to be obtained with monthly premiums ?

    • USFSPA Killer

      It depends on the benefit amount of your retired pay that your SBP premium is buying – 35%, 50%, etc…

    • Joann Crummey

      Sir, when my husband past I did not get any of his retirement pay.But he was 100% disabled through the VA and I got one half of his disability pay and half of his social security .I was married 53 years 6 moths and 2 days when he passed.Ihope this information

      • USFSPA Killer

        Evidently he didn’t purchase SBP with his retired pay, but did he have Life Insurance with you as the beneficiary?

        • maria

          When a member is rated 100% or upgraded to 100%, the member no longer has to pay into SBP. If rating is upgraded, it is important to scan in decision letter to DFAS. The current SBP payments will be stopped. The member will get a back pay off monies from the date of decision. Now the spouse is covered by VA DIC compensation. If the member is out right rated 100% from military, spouse is covered by VA, no SBP required to sign up for. When a member retires over 20 yrs or under the TARA program. And is rated 50% or higher will get both retired military pay (taxable), VA Compensation non-taxable. If the member is not retired in one of those programs, they will recieved VA compensation only (not taxed). If a member is 100%, the spouse and children (under 26) are now eligiblefor chapter 35 college benefit. Also if your kids want to go to college in California, that can go tuition free at any state college (community, state, or UC). The veteran does not have to reside on cali. Other states have other programs. Go to http://www.nasdva.net to see state benefits for all states.

          • USFSPA Killer

            You could be held in contempt if there is a court order to subscribe to SBP for a former spouse, regardless of SBP law. When you post info like this, you MUST post the “chapter and verse” – i.e. the Chapter and section of federal law – that applies. An example would be 10 USC 1408 (x)(X)…etc. With that citational reference, you substantiate your statement disproving that it’s a “well, someone said….” pipedream.

          • Tom

            Do you have the reference material for this information?

    • CHARLIE

      BOY O BOY !!!!!! THIS IS THE DISCONNECT I FREQUENTLY TALK TO MY WIFE ABOUT WHEN IT COMES TO EX-GIs. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT YOU HADN’T STOP TO SEE A RSO OFFICER WHEN YOU APPLIED FOR RETIREMENT INITIALLY. A RETIREMENT SERVICE OFFICER (RSO) AT THE LAST DUTY STATION IN WHICH YOU RETIRED, OR THE NEAREST MILITARY POST TO YOU WHICH WILL HAVE AN RSO PERSON, OR CALLED THE NEAREST RSO NEAR YOU FOR AN APPOINTMENT, SO THAT SHE CAN BE GIVEN HER EARNED BENEFITS. GOOD FAMILIES SERVE TOGETHER, AND A GOOD SPOUSE SUPPORTS THAT SERVICE MEMBER, GIVING THEM THE ABILITY TO PERFORM THEIR JOBS TO THE MAX. A WONDERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL ARRANGEMENT. PLEASE SEEK THE RSO NEAR YOU FOR HELP BEFORE SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOU AND SHE IS LEFT WITHOUT BENEFITS, WHICH SHE IS ENTITLTED TO REGARDLESS AND CAN BE ACQUIRED VIA THE VA, BUT IT WOULD BE A LOT EASIER WHEN DONE IN ADVANCE BY A SURVIVAL OFFICER.

      • Kate

        Charlie, there is no provision to go back and elect SBP after the fact, unless Congress authorizes an open season (which is not likely to occur, as this has historically only happened after major changes to the program.) At this point, the original commenter’s only option is to purchase commercial life insurance or make some other sort of investment.

  • Clark Denny

    What about retirements based on both active and reserve service? Reserve retirement is based on retirement points. Do you split the points earned during the marriage? What about CRSC? My entire retired pay is zeroed out because my 100% VA compensation is greater than my retired pay. How ever I receive an amount equal to my retired pay as CRSC (Combat Related Special Compensation). Is the entire CRSC amount split or is it prorated?

    • USFSPA Killer

      CRSC is NOT divisble and NOT taxable – by federal law, but then again, we all know what wack-a-doodle kangaroo divorce courts do – they do INDIRECTLY what they can’t do DIRECTLY by ordering the retiree to “use any other avialble income to pay the court order” !

  • Victoria Martin

    Dept of Justice needs to investigate the courts & DFAS abuse of denying retirement benefits. We participated and paid into SBP the courts never granted us a legal divorce decree the court granted a legal Dismissal Order. DFAS have refused to accept the judges court order. My husband passed away 2 years ago I loss my military medical & SBP benefits can someone please help?

    • USFSPA Killer

      You should get back to the lawyer that represented you with the paperwork from DFAS.

    • Ed Fahy

      Go to this website and then if needed call the Pentagon and ask for a JAG (Judge Advocate General) Officer. They should be able to help…. if nothing else leave your name, phone number and email so they can contact you.
      http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/survivor_depend

      You will have to “cut and paste” to get the web site to work

      • USFSPA Killer

        Ed – The military JAG’s cannot represent a member or dependant in civilian courts – They can do an unofficial referral at best.

    • Ed Fahy

      If you live near a DOD base, go there to talk with a military lawyer. You should be getting both medicval and SBP benefits. If you don’t live near a DOD base, then call into the Pentagon

    • USFSPA Killer

      Pleae explain what a “Dismissal Order” is and what state issued it; that may help to explain why you don’t have anything and what you might do to get back what you should have now.

  • S. Smith

    Wives who were not in the military did not have any earned income by virtue of the husband’s active military service. Upon retirement of the military member, the parties could have elected to enroll in the SBP (Survivor Benefit Plan) by having those premiums deducted from the military member’s retirement pay. My husband currently pays $257 a month to insure fifty-five percent of his retirement pay. We were married before he entered boot camp, so we were married the entirety of his thirty-year career. If I predecease my husband, he does not get any of the premiums back. It is essentially an insurance policy with no monetary benefit unless the retired service member dies first. If the wife dies first, he keeps 100 percent because it is “his” retirement.

    • Larry Suttles

      I retired from the Navy after 20 years, when I was 37 and still very young. My wife and I decided not to participate in the SBP for those same reasons, but I have maintained a very good life insurance policy on myself using the money saved, with a considerable amount left over.

      • S. Smith

        Good decision on your part to purchase life insurance instead of electing to participate in the SBP. Had my husband been younger, we would have made the same decision. At the age he retired, life insurance would have been more expensive. Best-case scenario is to be able to amass enough through retirement accounts to get the tax benefits and also bypass the necessity of having to purchase insurance.

      • Kate

        Larry, I’m curious abou the life insurance policy that you’ve chosen. Does it provide cost-of-living adjusted lifetime income?

        • USFSPA Killer

          Of course, no commercial life insurance policy provides “c-o-l” adjusted lifetime income. That’s why SBP is so expensive – it does.

    • guest

      what the heck does “Wives who were not in the military did not have any earned income by virtue of the husband’s active military service.” mean? You think just because you are a spouse you can’t work? Newsflash there are quite a few of us that do and actually are the breadwinners of the family.

      • USFSPA Killer

        So, here’s the question – Who signed on the contract’s dotted line to be a military member ? It was the military member themselves – NOT the Spouse ! Marital partners – EITHER gender, now ! – of a military member do NOT “earn” any benefits ! They are privilidged to have certain benefits extended to them.

  • George Hornbrook

    I pay my x wife almost eleven thousand a year but how am I protected when and if she dies? I understand how it’s supposed to work but that is who she is currently married to reports her death. If she isn’t married then WHO reported her dead! I have called in to DFAS and asked them to how I protect my interest but the employee and her supervisor ask me what interest do I have well it really left me VERY concerned about the large amount of money I pay every year to my x wife! Where is my protection!

    • USFSPA Killer

      George – Without being accused of “stalking”, you have to keep low-level tabs on your ex-broomrider. Even if it’s years later when you learn of her death, DFAS needs hard copy – i.e. – death certificate, newpaper clipping, notorized statement to stop the garnishee. Best bet is to call DFAS immediately when you confirm her death and then get the hard copy evidence to DFAS later. On your call, DFAS will suspend the payments to her (they will still take them and hold them but not send them to her) and when they get the hard copy, the held payments will be returned to you. You won’t have to recover anything from her estate or her heirs – DFAS will do that for you, because now they are recovering the govt’s money, not yours, because DFAS will settle up with you to avoid legal problems for you trying to recover it from her estate or her heirs..

    • USFSPA Killer

      Furthermore, just about all federal gov’t entities paying monetary benefits have to cross-feed beneficiary death reports to all other entites. Thus, there is very little likelyhood that any entitly won’t get at least one notification from at least one another entity.

  • USFSPA Killer

    Congradulations on a well-founded financial life insurance decision !

    • Deana

      I’m finding your broom rider statements pretty offensive. There are spouses who gave up their lives, even medical school for their husbands career. Stood by their side for 28 years. Then on his 14th deployment he decides to have an affair and comes home and file for a divorce. I took care of our family raised his three kids waitresses for 12 years and went to college part times. Finally managed almost 20 later to earn a Masters. My dreams were put on hold for his, he destroyed my life and my family. But theses comments. About having to give spouses money who stand by and support and do all they do ins support of your careers and the military mission deserve to be rewarded for their hard work and efforts as well. I am still in the process of this divorce and heartbroken. So know ladies and gentlemen not all of them are BROOM RIDERS!

      • USFSPA Killer

        Maybe if you READ and FULLY UNDERSTOOD the Military Retired PAY laws, you’d see what a SCREWJOB military retirees got when the USFSPA became law ! Congratulations on advancing yourself prior to becoming a former spouse – now with a Masters degree you can get a good job where what ever money you’ll get from his solely earned military retired pay will just be “pocket change” for you!

      • ami

        I agree Deana, I was active for 5 years and have raised my family without my husbands presence for about 6 years during the last12 years. We were married once for 10 years and divorced for 2 and a half years. Then we remarried. I have always worked outside the home as a nurse and have also put off furthering my schooling for so many years to ensure he could do his job. We were married (still are, but separated) for more than 22 years but, he said he would rather die than see me have any of his retirement. Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face. This broom rider has been totally discounted for all the years I have put in and don’t even know if it is worth fighting over since he will most likely be medical boarded out within the next year after 17 years as an officer. And because he was never good with money, there are still all the major bills to be paid and if I get nothing, then my name gets smeared everywhere with bankruptcy. I do feel that I have supported my soldier for many years in many ways and certainly deserve some compensation. We have just started our divorce on the battlefield and am searching for options. He probably wont get retirement and disability cant be touched. THat will leave me with just all the bad memories and lonely months on end that came with him going onto active duty…

        • USFSPA Killer

          If and when your husband gets “boarded out” his service medical rating officer will assign him a rating percentage which will entitle him to that percentage of his current months basic pay. This pay is called – TDRL or PDRL – TDRL= TEMPORARY Disabilty Retired List and mens that his service medical officer feels that within 5 years his condition(s) may have cleared enough for him to return to active duty and finish out his 20 then get regular retirement. If his service medical officer feels that his conditions will never improve or get worse, they will put him on the PDRL = Permanent Disability Retired List which means he’s “out and free”. He can’t apply for VA disability until he’s on his service’s PDRL. He then can apply to the VA to get a VA disability rating which is a LOT different than a military service disabilty rating, and pays different amounts. If he should get a VA rating, the VA will notify his retiring service of the amount the VA will pay him and his service will either lower or terminate his PDRL. Not legal advice nor am I a lawyer.

  • BeesQuestion

    As the former spouse I must pay the SBP premium in full. How do I find out what that amount is because my for COL lies about every thing. We were married 34 1/2 years and he has already won in court getting my percentage of his retirement lowered and I must repay him what I received at 6% interest. Exact figures are very important for me.

    • USFSPA Killer

      First, how are you paying the SBP premium ? The USFSPA requires it to only be taken from the retiree’s retired pay. Call DFAS Retired Pay Garnishments.

    • Kate

      BeesQuestion – are you making payments to your ex-spouse for the SBP premiums that are deducted from his retired pay? I would ask him for a copy of his Retiree Account Statement to establish the amount that must be paid.

      Good luck to you.

      • USFSPA Killer

        If her retiree former husband is a regular liar, will he willingly give her a copy of his RAS ? Get real !

        • BeesQuestion

          The paper work has been subpeoned from him, but he refuses to present it. This has been going on since 2003.

          • USFSPA Killer

            If you’ve let it go on this long – 12 YEARS – without getting a contempt order, then you’re to blame, too !

          • BeesQuestion

            He stays in contempt and gets by with it. Lawton is a good ole boy city.

          • Kate

            Bees, if he is in contempt, can you not withhold payments until he provides documentation?

          • BeesQuestion

            If I don’t pay then I am in contempt.

          • USFSPA Killer

            Get a lawyer – FAST !

          • BeesQuestion

            I am on my second attorney and he is on his sixth, because he does not do what the court says.

          • USFSPA Killer

            Anybody guess who is really running that farce ? !

  • Buddy

    Sometimes I think Congress should never have involved itself wrt retired (retention) pay. I know it was designed to protect spouses who actually sacrificed for the benefit of their military mate, but it also opened the door for judges to divide the money without due consideration to the divorce particulars. Some ex’s, like mine, don’t deserve a dime!

    Not only did the judge give my ex half of my retirement, but he used my VA disability as a factor in my ability to pay alimony. Even though I currently work full-time in a civilian job, I had to drastically cut my expenses to survive. She never needs to work again as she has more disposable income than I have.

    I don’t think the intent was to be a cash-cow for former spouses of military members, but that’s what it is for some. And many court jurisdictions are complicit in the injustice.

    By the way, as a condition for the pay, retired members can be recalled to service and remain subject to the UCMJ (not that it’s likely anyone will be prosecuted under it), but former spouses who receive a portion of that retired pay are not. How’s that rational?

    • USFSPA Killer

      If many, many, MANY retirees LEGALLY told Congress to repeal the USFSPA, it will happen, but most just don’t care or they love being a “butt-buddy” to the USFSPA !

    • USFSPA Killer

      Actually, it was the US Supreme Court in the McCarty decision -June 26, 1981 – that gave the final push to the 97th Congress (1981-1982) to enact the USFSPA. The Supreme Court in the McCarty decision actually INVITED the 97th Congress to legislate the USFSPA, so the US Supreme Court of summer 1981 is to specifically BLAME for the USFSPA ! Realize that the current US Supreme Court is them same one as then.

      • Ed

        Not the same Supreme Court justices. William Rehnquist, Sandra DAy O’Connor, Harry Blackburn, Lewis Powell, and Marshall Thurgood were all on the Supreme Court in the 80’s. All has since either retired or died.

        • USFSPA Killer

          Ed – Was I NOT CLEAR ENOUGH ? – I reiterated that “the current US Supreme Court is them same one as then” ! Besides, it’s Blackmun (not Blackburn) – if you’re going to challege my postings, make damn sure you are “dead on balls accurate” !

  • Linda van Tinteren

    How is the pension situation for me as a soon to be second Ex-wife? My husband’s 1st wife already gets half of his pension. We are married almost 11 years now.
    Please inform.
    Thank you!

    • USFSPA Killer

      First of all he does NOT get a “military pension” – get that straight FIRST ! He gets military retired PAY. Since he’s already retired, there is no overlap of marraige and service, so DFAS won’t accept the order to garnishee his retired PAY. Be fair – cut a deal with him first !

  • Mr. V

    I am 59 and will receive reserve retirement in 5 months. I have been divorced for 6 years and pay a maintenance fee monthly. The divorce was settled in a local program using collaboration with she and I and both lawyers. We work out all pay, agree on numbers, and the lawyer takes it to the judge for approval. We did not include any retired pay as part of this payment. Will the military go to the x wife and give her a percent even though the agreement we and both lawyers and the judge has been agreed upon, finalized and in place for 6 years?
    I am planning on not taking the survivors benefits plan. She was married to me for 28 of my 28 years in the reserves, but not my 4 years of active duty.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Leaving out reserve retirement from your now “set in stone” divorce decree may cause problems after you start collecting. It should have been settled 6 years ago – either stating division or not. Since the USFSPA considers the partitioned portion of retired pay to be the former spouses “joint property”, property changes may be impossible, however, nobody can second guess what Kangaroo courts will do !

    • Kate

      It would have been more secure if your divorce decree or property settlement agreement specifically stated that your military retirement pay was not to be divided. However, DFAS will not go to the ex-wife and give her anything without a court order and documentation of her eligibility to receive payments from them. She would have to meet the criteria for direct payments (10 years of marriage during your military service) and return to court to overturn your original settlement agreement.

      I’m so pleased to hear that your experience with a mediated divorce went well. So many people assume that the only way to handle a divorce is by having a court case. I love it when people talk about their successfully mediated divorces.

      Congratulations on attaining the age to collect your reserve retirement!

  • USFSPA KIller

    Kate – Great reply !

  • .D. Green

    Check on OJ Simpsons retirement. He has millions and makes millions in retired pay he protected from the Brown’s collecting any of it, due to a court order, because by Federal Law any Disability pay cannot be attached. It does not specify retired from the military, just says any disability retirement.. All of the military who have been affected by having their disability retired pay attached should get together and contact the lawyer that is currently protecting OJ. One court in Cdolorado attached mine. By an as in nine ruling once it is in the bank they can take it, even though it is directe deposited

    • USFSPA Killer

      Yes, federal law says any disability can’t be attached, BUT- we know that KANGAROO court judges order “the payments to be made from ANY income source” ! So the vicitim is caught between a KANGAROO court judge and jail ! AS to “taking it from the bank after it being deposited”, back in 2011, a new federal banking policy was instituted – certain federal benefit deposits (NOT ALL) are specifically marked in their subject title with 2 letter “XX”‘s in the first two positions of the title field as a attention getter to the banking facility which must not levy a garnishee against certain amounts of those funds. (Gee, knowing the law is wonderful, isn’t it ? ! )

  • Preston

    Do u have to pay your x wife retirement pay if she remarries? We live in state of Va.

    • USFSPA Killer

      It depends solely on what your divorce decree says ! The USFSPA doesn’t say that it stops, therefore it continues unless your divorce decree says it will stop if she reels in another fish !

  • Vince Flowder

    I’ve been married 25 years and my wife was with me for the last 20 years of my military career. She earned every bit of 50% of my retired pay should that day come when she tires of putting up with me and divorces me. I don’t think that will happen though because I suspect she is a masochist and enjoys being married to me. If it were possible the kids should split the other 50% because lord knows they put up with a lot of crap from my military career too.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Vince – Wake up ! NO spouse “earns” any retired pay ! Go back and read the US Supreme Court decision – McCarty – 26 June 1981 – Six of the nine bench warmers agreed that military retired PAY is the SOLE entitlement of the military retiree and retired pay has NO concept of “community property” ! It’s statements like you make that makes it harder and harder for us 250,000 victims of the USFSPA to repeal it ! Have you joined the feminazis ?

      • DeHa

        Not true. I earned the amount I am getting and more. I endured all of his extramarital affairs, his TDYs, and his long hours at work and at the gym. Once the kids were grown and with his latest affair, I filed. He has the nerve to be a cry baby. You play, you pay. He has to pay me for the rest of his life and/or mine. I have to maintain the life insurance policy I insisted on because of his life choices, he probably won’t be around for long. He also has to provide proof that he is maintaining the life insurance policy he has with his job in my name on a yearly basis…..otherwise I know he would cancel it.

        • USFSPA Killer

          You earned from him as compensation for his lack of respect for you.

  • Denise Truman

    i am currently going thru a divorce and the SBP is an issue. My soon to be ex says don’t keep it, it’s expensive, and that he could get a life insurance policy for less with me as beneficiary. Every lawyer I have spoken to has said to keep it. Unfortunately my soon to be ex is not trustworthy. How am I to be sure he won’t change beneficiaries on it someday even just stop making payments? And he wants to be a cop in a few months, which is a very dangerous job. Any advice?

    • USFSPA Killer

      Yes, commercial life insurance is a much better deal – more coverage for the same price or lower cost for the same coverage – either way it’s a better deal. However, there is a settled case where an Army officer was purchasing commercial life insurance for his ex-wife, but changed the beneficiary to his brother – he accidentally died shortly after he made the change. The insurance paid his brother. His ex-wife sued his brother and the commercial insurer but lost out on both defendants. She didn’t get a penny of his insurance. SBP doesn’t have that option. (Not legal advice).

    • Kate

      I disagree with USFSPA Killer. Yes, you can get commercial insurance for a lower price, but it is not more coverage or even the same coverage. A comparable commercial policy would be prohibitively expensive.

      If you fight for SBP, and it is my opinion that you should, then you must submit your divorce decree or court order to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to ensure that you are named as a covered former spouse. This not only ensures that the coverage is started, but that it continues.

      This webpage has helpful information about how to ensure that DFAS is properly notified of the situation:
      http://www.dfas.mil/garnishment/usfspa/apply.html

      • DeHa

        In Ohio, I was told that SBP can only be initiated if there is an open season and you can get the member to sign up for it. Last one was in 2006. This is only if it was opted out of at the time for retirement. Get a term policy and try to get him to pay for it. I have to pay for it myself b/c he was being a cry baby.

        • USFSPA Killer

          SBP is a FEDERAL benefit plan – state law can NOT control federal benefit plans ! Whoever “told” you that in Ohio….blah…blah…blah” is FULL of vacuum between the ears ! ! ! ! Just file for SBP – as long as it’s within one year of your original divorce and it wasn’t mentioned in that original order – it will be a “deemed election” if it’s within the one year period after the original order. Then tell your “source” to READ THE SBP LAW !

    • USFSPA Killer

      SBP does have one advantage over commercial life insurance – any initial beneficiary can NOT be changed without the written permission of the initial beneficiary or by court order.

    • DeHa

      I had it put into the court order that he be required show me proof of insurance every year.

  • T. jones

    My ex is remarried and still gets a portion of my civil service retirement , but none of my military retirement , i retired from the marines at age sixty , why does she think she come back to court and get 50% of both checks . I thought her re marriage stops all actions.

    • USFSPA Killer

      “Thinking” something is dangerous ! – Why don’t you read the laws pertaining to BOTH retirement systems and KNOW what happens ! PS – The USFSPA does NOT allow for remarriage to stop military retired PAY division !

  • ldajnowski

    I served in combat prior to and after the marriage. She divorced me when I was deployed to the Persian Gulf with a dear john letter and got remarried to a man she had been seeing for many years behind my back (my daughters told me this!). He does not work so the money she receives actually goes to him as well which is disgraceful to me. I gained more rank and years of service after the divorce and she benefits from this because of the FSPA rules which are ANTI retired military serviceman/women. Remarriage should terminate FSPA payments and increased rank/years of service after the divorce should not be included in what is paid. I have paid over $200,000 since the divorce and I did not agree to these payments but the court forced it into the divorce papers and fhe federal government allows this because of the FSPA rules which are a total disgrace to the retired serviceman/women who fought for this country. I am sickend by the FSPA and feel like I am in a communiist country with No Rights.

    • USFSPA Killer

      Then don’t just bitch about it – do something LEGAL ! – Contact your federal and state legislators and tell them of your opinions (yea, I know, lotta good that will do, right?) But if more USFSPA victims got off their beer butts and LEGALLY protested the USFSPA – it WILL go away !

  • Patti

    Works both ways! You can’t have your cake and eat it to! I was married 17years 9 active duty and now that we divorced because he is 100% SC I get nothing! Not a single red cent! That is not fair

    • USFSPA Killer

      Patti – Your ex should be getting full VA disbility and therefore full CRDP which is divisble (his VA disbility is NOT divisible, only his CRDP from DFAS is divisible)

  • CaroleL

    This is off subject but my brother can relate He is 69 years. 100 per cent mental disability since 19 No social security only his coast guard pension. He does have a mental disability but he does understand finance Always had a knack for numbers He knows his pension is $3,300.00 a month The Va placed him in a private home with 2 other veterans This varies as they die off The owner of the home receives $650.00 a month from his pension My brother receives $150.00 a month
    The VA keeps the rest The VA refuses to tell him where is money is kept The VA refuses to give him any sort of accounting We estimate that he has accumulated at least a quarter of a million could be double that. When he makes inquiries , they laugh at him and abuse him verbally I am 77 years old He asked them to send me $1000 a month as I am his only next of kin and live on smal SS check
    They lied and told they were doing that they quote: She is all fat sassy He is infuriated He asked if I go the money I had to tell him no as he gets so upset I try to change the subject He is diabetic and in poor health I will probably out live him I just those that spend his pension when he gone rot in hell

    • USFSPA Killer

      You really need to contact your congress person and federal senators !

  • Earl

    How is 20 year retirement divided in a divorce in which the serviceman has married the same women twice? The first marriage was under the 10 year rule and ended with divorce without court agreement to any sharing of retirement pay.

    Then second marriage to same women ended in divorce. Does the ex wife still collect 50% ?

    • USFSPA Killer

      How can she “still” collect 50% when she never got to collect on the first divorce ? Again, it’s all up to a KANGAROO COURT JUDGE – – – unless the couple brings a notarized property settlement to the court.

    • Kate

      Earl, the two parties in a divorce get to decide how to organize the division of their marital property. Only if the two parties can not come to an agreement does an outside party (like a judge) get to make those decisions. It is in your best interest to find a mutually agreeable way to divide all your property (houses, cars, bank accounts, retirement accounts, military retirement pay, etc.) without letting someone else make that decision for you.

      In theory, if your divorce decree does not state that she will receive a portion of your military retired pay, then she will never receive any. In reality, it is safer to include language in the divorce decree that states that military retired pay will not be divided. This makes it harder for the subject to be reopened at a later date.

  • USFSPA Killer

    Military retired pay should NOT be divided ! – The 97th Congress was so intent on passing the USFSPA “under the radar” so they wouldn’t get stopped that they never changed any of the laws regarding military retired pay. The THEN-US Supreme Court is also to blame as that court back then, invited the 97th Congress to develop an unconstitutional federal sanctioning of state divorce courts to divide military retired pay in their “McCarty” 26 June 1981 decision.

  • Terry

    I am a military spouse of a 22 year retired military vet and is going through a divorce. Can I request the court that I don’t want to recieve any portion of my my spouse military retirement pay ever? She is paying for our two kids college and I don’t want to burden them.

    • Guest contributor

      Sure – very easy – just have the divorce decree use that wording – “Military retired pay is permanently exempt from division.”