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How military retirements and pensions are divided during divorce

If you are a retired military service member, your military pension is probably one of your most valuable assets. Military pensions are divisible during a divorce.

It is important to understand how California courts divide military pensions and other retirement benefits.

Who can divide military retirement benefits?

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act gives courts the authority to decide how or whether to divide military retirement funds as part of a divorce, annulment or legal separation. Only a court located in the same state as the service member’s legal residence or domicile or that both parties agree upon has jurisdiction to divide military retirement benefits.

Can a former spouse receive direct payments?

If the court awards a former military spouse a portion of a service member’s retirement benefits for child support or alimony, the military will pay the court-ordered amount directly to the former spouse. Additionally, if the marriage lasted 10 years or more and the service member was performing service for the military for at least those 10 years, the military may also issue direct payments. If none of these conditions exist, the service member must pay any court-ordered amount to the former spouse.

If the former spouse receives direct payments, these payments end when the payments fulfill the terms of the court order, when the former spouse dies or when the service member dies. A former spouse may request direct payments by submitting a signed DD Form 2293 with a copy of the court order and other court-certified documentation to the designated agent of the member’s uniformed service.

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