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Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

How Retirement And Pension Benefits Are Divided After A Military Divorce

Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmFor military service members, the pension is part of the many retirement benefits they receive after their service. For non-military divorces, retirement benefits and pension plans are also treated as property and get divided accordingly. Except for few changes, it’s not much different for military personnel either. In a court of law, a service member’s retirement and pension benefits are treated as valuable assets during a dissolution of marriage.

Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act was passed in 1982 by Congress and allows courts to treat retired pay in the same way as other properties. It means that retired pays can be divided as marital property or can be kept as a separate property, depending on the law. It is hard to say how California courts treat retired pays because mostly it depends on the amount and the divorce case. It differs from case to case.

Minimum 10 years of marriage

It was popularly believed that retired pay can only be divided after the marriage lasted for at least 10 years. In different cases involving military personnel, California courts have awarded a portion of the retirement benefit to the other spouse even though the marriage lasted for less than a year. However, this holds true for benefits and not direct payments. For direct payments, a marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years before the spouse becomes eligible.

Military benefits for former spouse

Former spouses of military personnel are entitled to military benefits as long as he/she meets the criteria. The benefits are statutory entitlements and therefore cannot be subjected to any change or negotiation. The benefits include commissary, medical and military exchanges and in cases where the marriage lasted for at least 20 years, the spouse is entitled to retain all military benefits. The spouse will also receive every benefit if the military personnel served for at least 20 years and if the marriage and military service overlapped for 20 years.

The benefits change according to the duration of marriage and military service.


Divorces for military personnel are no different than divorces for other citizens and division of pension and retirement plans are also based on the same laws. However, the duration of marriage and credible military service matter a lot and influences the amount of benefits a spouse will receive after the dissolution of marriage.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

divorce_attorneyGerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law attorney and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.



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