One of the more contentious types of divorces we’ve seen is the one involving military spouses. There are so many moving parts involved in these relationships, that it’s usually relatively messier than other divorces. That’s because there’s always unique issues like base relocation, retirement pay and Survivor Benefit Plans.
J.J. Montanaro, a law writer for USAA wrote on this topic recently for Military.com. He suggests the same, even going as far as to write, “I wanted to shout my advice -- "Get help!" -- to these people.” Here are a couple of examples of his excellent advice.
"Am I entitled to a portion of my spouse's retirement pay?"
Great question, but if you've come out of the divorce process not knowing the answer, it's too late. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act allows state courts to divide military retirement as property. But calculating the value of this stream of income, adjusted for inflation, is no simple task. Quality legal and financial counsel can help you accurately assess the value and negotiate an equitable settlement.
"When we were divorced 20 years ago, our divorce required my ex-spouse to carry former-spouse SBP coverage. He passed away. How do I collect?"
Again, this reader is out of luck. You must notify the Defense Finance and Accounting Services within a year after the divorce. I'm a big proponent of SBP -- the Survivor Benefit Plan. It protects the retiring service member's spouse by providing income if the retiree passes away. In a divorce, there are very specific rules and deadlines associated with what happens to this coverage. Knowing the rules, making the appropriate notifications and doing the survivorship planning in the context of the divorce will be part of your adviser's job.
We’d strongly recommend going over to read the whole thing if you or someone you know is about to get a military divorce.
Don't Cut Corners During a Military Divorce (Military.com)