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What Happens to a Military Pension in Divorce?

Service members in the military spend a considerable amount of time overseas while on deployment, and they are often in very stressful situations. As someone who has served your country at home and abroad, you likely feel that your military pension is well-deserved and do not want anything to happen that could take it away from you. If you are about to go through a divorce, though, your military pension could be in jeopardy. Below, our Columbus military divorce lawyer explains more.

Property Division Matters in Ohio

Although you served the entire country while in the military, divorce is still largely a state matter. This means that during the divorce process, the family court will treat your military pension just like any other asset. Ohio is an equitable distribution state and so, assets are divided fairly, though not necessarily equally, during a divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) provides state judges with the right to divide military pensions 

Your military pension is subject to the equitable distribution laws of the state and so, it will be treated like any other retirement fund. If you started earning your military pension before getting married, that portion is considered separate property. Any portion of the pension you earned after getting married is then subject to division.

The USFSPA also provides former spouses of military members to request the court to order regular payouts from the service member’s account. It is important to note that retroactive payments are not possible. Former spouses can only receive funds they have been awarded moving forward with the order.

The 10-Year Misconception

There is a very common misconception that military pensions are only divisible if the couple has been married for ten years or more. State courts can still award a share of the military pension to an ex-spouse of a service member even if the marriage lasted less than one year.

Still, the Department of Defense will only make direct payments to a former spouse of a military member if the spouse was married to the service member for at least ten years, and at least ten of those years must have overlapped a period of service in the military. Additionally, direct payments are not made for military pensions in excess of 50 percent of alimony being paid or in excess of 65 percent of child support being paid, in addition to the division of the military pension.

Our Military Divorce Lawyers in Columbus Can Help with Your Case

Divorce always has the potential to become complicated. However, if you or your spouse is a service member, the issues involved are even more complicated. At Lawrence Law Office, our Columbus military divorce lawyers have extensive experience with these types of cases and we will put it to work for you. We can advise on all aspects of your case, answer all of your questions, and give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us now at 614-228-3664 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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