When married couples decide to go their separate ways, there are important decisions they need to make that can impact the wellbeing of the entire family.
Military servicemembers have to consider laws that don’t apply to civilian couples. These laws influence the decisions made around child support and custody, alimony, and the division of assets.
Retirement pensions are assets that can be subject to equitable division in Georgia. Working with an attorney who understands the needs of military couples is the best way to protect your financial interests.
Federal Laws That Affect Military Personnel in a Divorce
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) can affect divorce proceedings by allowing servicemembers to postpone (stay) a civil court proceeding if they’re unable to be present due to being on active duty.
But when it comes to the division of military retirement pensions, the rules can be more complicated.
In the state of Georgia, divorce cases can involve the equitable distribution of marital assets, which are those assets acquired during the marriage.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) allows for the division of military retirement benefits in a divorce or legal separation under state law.
Dividing Retirement Assets in a Military Divorce
The division of retirement pensions is limited to non-disability benefits, and many former military servicemembers receive disability compensation. So you should consult with a qualified attorney who can help you determine the best options for your needs.
In order for retirement assets to be divided in a military divorce, you need to make sure that the state court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of your case.
In order for a court to have jurisdiction over the division of military pension, the military servicemember must live in the state of Georgia, be domiciled in Georgia, or consent to the state’s jurisdiction.
Also, a spouse can only receive a share of the retirement pension when they have been married to a military servicemember for at least 10 years and during the person’s active duty.
Are You Entitled to Military Retirement Assets?
A family law attorney who understands the unique needs and legal considerations for military couples can help you determine if you’re entitled to retirement benefits.
Under the USFSPA, a former spouse of a military member cannot exceed 50 percent of their disposable retired earnings. This limitation increases to 65 percent in cases that involve garnishment for alimony or child support.
Military pensions can be divided in different ways, including a flat dollar amount, flat percentage, and Hypothetical Division, which is calculated under the assumption that the military servicemember retired on the date of the divorce.
Your attorney can help you determine the best method for dividing retirement assets in your divorce.
Flat dollar amounts can be granted under a court order or an agreement made by both parties.
A flat percentage can be used in cases where the servicemember has retired, making it easier to calculate the amount of military service that was completed during the marriage.
Deferred division and present-value offset are two other factors to consider when dividing retirement assets. Deferred division allows the military servicemenber to pay some part of their pension when it is received.
Present-value offset allows other assets, such as personal property, to be traded against the value of the retirement pension.
These methods of division have their benefits and limitations. An attorney can help you make sense of the complexities involved in military divorces, the laws that govern them, and the division of assets.
They can help you understand state and federal laws so that you have the resources you need as you complete your divorce. The more you know about military divorce, the more likely you’ll be to obtain the legal outcome you want.