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Considerations for Military Families and Divorces

By January 19, 2021April 22nd, 2021No Comments

Divorce is complicated enough on its own, but when one or both spouses have served in the military, that adds additional issues that must be taken into consideration as proceedings begin.

What Happens to Retirement Pay in a Military Divorce?

Nationally speaking, The American Bar Association (ABA) notes filing for the division of a military pension is largely based upon federal law. “A state has jurisdiction to divide the military pension if: 1) the servicemember is a legal resident of the state; 2) the servicemember is residing in that state for reasons other than because of a military assignment, or 3) the servicemember consents to the jurisdiction of that state’s courts over the division of the pension.” Otherwise, the state court may not be able to preside officially.

In Ohio, military pensions are treated as marital property and are subject to division within a divorce negotiation. Retired reserve pay is divided using months rather than points, which is how active duty pay is split.

The court will typically split up retirement pension based on a calculation of “disposable retired pay,” which is generally seen as the retired or retainer pay minus:

  • Any court-martial ordered fines, overpayment of retirement pay, or other obligations to the United States
  • Anything deducted to pay for a court-ordered Survivor Benefit Plan for the former spouse
  • Anything received as veteran’s disability or military disability pay.

Spouses Married Less Than Ten Years

Again, according to the ABA, “Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), the 10/10 rule governs the method of payment. At least ten years of marriage overlapping at least ten years of military service is needed for direct payment from the retired pay center, usually the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). If the marriage does not meet the requirements of this rule, then the spouse may obtain a division of retired pay but not a direct payment from the pay center.”

What About VA Disability in a Divorce?

The USFSPA states that VA disability compensation payments do not factor into divorce property division and the same is typically true with military disability retirement payments (the latter occurring when a service member is declared unfit for duty).


If one or both spouses were members of the military, it’s important to understand how military-specific benefit packages could be split in a divorce. Enlisting the help of a knowledgeable divorce law firm like Garretson & Holcomb can help make sense of the myriad numbers, rules and regulations. Call us today at (513) 863-6600 to learn more.

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