Dividing the Military Pension: The Ten Year Rule

Dividing the Military Pension: The Ten Year Rule

American$20Flag$202When someone is married to a service member, the question of dividing the service member’s pension comes up in divorce cases.  Often the non-service member spouse is told that they are not entitled to any portion of the military pension if they were not married to the service member for 10 years which overlap with that service member’s 10 years of military service.

This is not the case and often that non-service member spouse loses out on quite a bit of money that he or she is otherwise entitled to because of this widely held misconception.  The ten year rule is simply a prerequisite that must be met in order to allow the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to enforce and pay the non-service member spouse his/her share of the military pension.

When there are ten years of marriage that overlap with ten years of service, the non-service member spouse may receive payment of his or her share from DFAS.  But what if the parties in a divorce action do not meet the “ten year rule?”  Is the non-service member spouse still entitled to a portion of the military pension?

Yes, the non-service member spouse is entitled to a marital portion of the retirement even if the “ten year rule” is not met.  However, DFAS will not pay and enforce the order dividing the military pension.  Unfortunately, if this is the case, the non-service member spouse must receive payment and/or enforce the order dividing the military pension by other means.

If you have questions regarding the “ten year rule” and/or how to divide the military pension by other means, please contact our Seattle divorce lawyers today at 206-728-8000 or 425-DIVORCE.