EXPLAINING THE UNIFORMED SERVICES FORMER SPOUSE PROTECTION ACT

The military has a Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) that governs divorce for spouses in the military. The reason for this act is that many different issues come up when a couple in the military decides to divorce. Some of the concerns include the continuing eligibility for commissary, exchange and health care benefits for the military spouse.

A former military spouse is not automatically entitled to a portion of the member’s retirement pay from the USFSPA. In order to receive a portion of retired pay from a military member, the military spouse would have to have been awarded a portion of the retired pay as property in the divorce order.

When a final divorce order states that retired pay is to be divided as property between the two spouses, the military member must have been married to his or her former spouse for 10 years or more. During that time, the military member will have had to perform at least 10 years of creditable military service towards retirement eligibility, which is known as the 10/10 rule.

In some cases, the USFSPA allows some former spouses to continue receiving exchange, commissary and health care benefits after the divorce goes final. To qualify for these continued benefits, the former spouse must be able to show that his or her military spouse served for at least 20 years of creditable service, that the marriage lasted for at least 20 years and that the marriage timeframe overlapped the service period by 20 years.

If a former spouse meets these requirements, he or she is known as a 20/20/20 and are entitled to full exchange, commissary and health care benefits. Included in these benefits are outpatient and inpatient care at military treatment facilities.

Contact our firm in Maryland if you are in a marriage with a member of the military that is headed for divorce. We can answer all of your questions about the USFSPA and how it can help you in military divorce.