Property division is one of the most important components of any divorce. Besides the house, car, boat, and other significant assets, spouses often have to deal with pensions and retirement accounts. Dividing military pensions can be a complex process; figuring out the exact benefits a former spouse of a military member can receive heavily depends on the length of the marriage. A federal law, the USFSPA, lays out the requirements for military benefits of divorcees.

The 10/10 Rule

One of the magic numbers for retired military pay and divorce is 10. If the military spouse performed duties for at least 10 years and was married for at least 10 of those years, then the non-military spouse is eligible for up to 50 percent of the military disposable retired pay. The 10/10 rule isn’t meant to suggest that a service member’s spouse is ineligible for military retirement pay or other benefits, but a spouse must meet the rule in order to receive direct payments from the military without having to receive payments from their ex-spouse.

Note: Former spouses of military personnel might get a larger portion of military retirement pay if it needs to be garnished for child support or spousal support (alimony). 

The 20/20/20 and 20/20/15 Rules

In addition to a portion of the service member’s retired pay, a former military spouse may get more benefits under the 20/20/20 rule. This applies to spouses married at least 20 years to service members who performed at least 20 years of military duties. And, similar to the 10/10 rule, 20 years of marriage must overlap with 20 years of military service. Former military spouses who meet the 20/20/20 rule are eligible for Base Exchanges and Commissary benefits, as well as TRICARE health benefits.

Spouses who do not meet the 20/20/20 rule may instead qualify for up to one year of TRICARE post-divorce under the 20/20/15 rule. This applies to military spouses whose marriage only overlaps for 15 years of their spouse’s military services. Spouses may continue to receive 20/20/20 benefits for life unless they remarry.

Benefits Aren’t Guaranteed

Just because a spouse is eligible for military benefits under the 10/10 or 20/20/20 rule does not automatically mean he or she will be awarded the benefits in divorce court. Judges, who are bound by state law, consider many aspects of a spouse’s situation and post-divorce life when dividing community property in Texas.

Our family law firm has worked with countless military families and spouses, and we understand the many nuances of a military divorce case. We will work on your behalf so your interests and goals are well represented and ensure all federal agencies approve of your divorce decree. Call us at 210-953-7486  to set up your consultation today.