The Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act is a federal law that established that military retirement benefits could be divided in a divorce. Before the enactment of this statute, military spouses could not get a share of what’s commonly referred to as a pension – it’s actually called “retired/retainer pay” – upon divorce. If there are any lawyers out there listening and they want to look it up, it’s US Code Section 10 USC 1408.
This act contains a lot of information about the requirements for dividing military retirement pay. However, it does not say how military pay is to be divided in terms of whether the spouse gets 50%. The amount of military retainer pay that is divided is determined by state court law, but this federal statute is a statute that allows it to be divided at all because it is a federal benefit. This was a critical turning point in this area of law when it was enacted.
Carolyn Grimes is a family lawyer at the law firm of Wade Grimes Friedman Sutter & Leischner PLLC in Alexandria, Virginia. To learn more about Grimes and her firm, visit www.oldtownlawyers.com.