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Considerations for Military Families and Divorces

By September 26, 2020April 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.

Benefits Available to Former Spouses

When a divorce is finalized, a number of benefits become available to former spouses depending on the length of the marriage and length of service:

-The “20/20/20” benefit: an unmarried former spouse qualifies for medical benefits and commissary and exchange privileges if the parties have been married for at least 20 years, the service member performed at least 20 years of creditable service for retirement pay and there’s a 20+ year overlap of marriage and the military service. 

-The “20/20/15” benefit: a former spouse qualifies for medical benefits for 12 months from the date of the divorce or annulment if the parties have met the same requirements as above except that the overlap only needs to be 15 years. 

Regarding children and their entitlement to benefits post-divorce, the National Military Family Association outlines much of that here. Child support and custody issues are a separate matter and can be negotiated with the advice of a qualified divorce or custody attorney. 

What Happens to Retirement Pay in a Military Divorce?

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. 


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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