The division of one spouse’s military pension in a divorce is governed by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), 10 U.S.C. § 1408. In all states, including the state of Georgia, military pensions are subject to division in a divorce. Although a few states place restrictions on this division, the state of Georgia does not have such restrictions. However, the USFSPA only involves non-disability retirement pay for former military personnel, not retirement for disability or disability compensation to which some former military members may be entitled.
Essentially, a military pension can be divided in two separate ways: deferred division and present-value offset. In deferred division, which is the most common method for dividing a military pension, the retired military spouse must pay a portion of the pension to the former spouse when he or she starts receiving it. If the parties were married for ten years or more, the former spouse’s portion can be directly garnished from the retired military spouse’s pay. However, if the parties were married for less than ten years, the retired military spouse must pay the portion directly to his or her former spouse.
Under the deferred division method, the former spouse could receive a certain monthly dollar amount of the pension or a percentage of the pension payments. In some cases, such as where the military spouse is still active duty, the former spouse might receive a fraction of the retirement pay, which is based on the number of months that the parties were married while the spouse was in the military. The pension also can be divided based on the military spouse’s rank or status at the time of the divorce or separation.
In a present-value offset, the alternate way to divide a military pension, the parties agree to trade property or money is against the current value of the pension. Assuming that the parties have other assets that are equal in value to the military pension, then the former spouse can elect to receive certain assets instead of claiming a share of the retired military spouse’s pension.
Dividing a military pension can be complex, especially since both federal and state laws impact its division. If you are in this situation, you will need the assistance of an Atlanta military divorce lawyer who has experience handling the division of military pensions.
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Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.