The non-military spouse is definitely entitled to a portion of the military member’s military pension. There are a couple of rules that come into play that are important to remember. Most people have probably heard of the 10/10 rule, which is that if you are not married for 10 years, the military will not pay you any of the other person’s military pension. That does not necessarily mean that you are not entitled to money. It just means that the military, the Department of Financial Services is not going to hand it over to you. The money will not come directly from them. Let’s say that you are married for nine years, and so you would be entitled to a couple of hundred dollars of the military person’s pension but you can’t get it directly from the government. What you would do is, as part of your agreement, you would have written in how the spouse would pay you. There’s also ways to negotiate it, so that is a value, and sometimes you can determine what that value would be over a certain amount of time. Maybe you say, you know what, I don’t really need your pension but I want the house, so I’m going to keep the house and the equities that’s in the house right now. I’ll trade that to you for the portion of your military pension I’m entitled to. In Florida, we have some rules that make it a little tougher to get stuff after the divorce, so if someone has had under a 10-year marriage and they want a portion of that pension, I try to trade it for something else just because of our rules, but every state kind of has different rules. You want to talk to an attorney in your specific state where you’re filing to make sure what exactly those rules are in your state. If after you got married the spouse joined the military and the spouse retired during the term of the marriage, so you guys were married the entire term of the military service, then the spouse is entitled to half and the military will gladly pay over the other spouse’s half. So, generally speaking, you are entitled to a portion of that.
Ginger L. Dugan, a family lawyer at All Family Law Group in Tampa, Florida, has 10 years of experience in family law and handling complex cases.