No: the military retirement dies with the military spouse. However, if at the time of retirement you have elected the survivor benefit plan, that is a benefit that would continue after the military spouse passes away. It’s a kind of annuity, but you have to pay for that. If you are divorcing a military spouse, you want to make sure that in your marital settlement agreement or when you go in front of the judge you ask to be designated as the beneficiary of the survivor benefit plan. There is a cost associated with it. It depends on what your rank is and what exactly you choose, and it does have to be chosen at the time of the retirement or ordered by the court. You want to make sure that you do that, because it is a really big benefit. Make sure that you really think about that.
The cost of it is minimal compared to the benefit that you get, especially if there’s a large age gap. If that is your main support that you’re using, you want to make sure that you have that. You can also use life insurance instead, but the survivor benefit plan is a really great benefit. You want to make sure you look into it and make sure that you are getting all of the benefits that you deserve, and it has to be written into your marital settlement agreement or else you don’t get it. If it’s not written in there, then it cannot be changed. Then the military spouse if they get remarried, they are allowed to change it. So you want to make sure that you put in your settlement agreement that it cannot be changed, so you’re the irrevocable beneficiary. So make sure you talk to an attorney. When it comes to military divorce, it is crucial to have an attorney because you have to have very specific language or else the government just won’t even consider what you are trying to do in your divorce agreement.
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.
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