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Keep More of Your Military Retirement after Divorce

Thursday, 05 January 2012

blog-logoIf there’s one thing that military service members worry about, it’s the possibility of losing a sizable portion of their retired pay in a divorce settlement.  Retired pay in the military is different than a 401K or pension in the civilian world and it is treated differently in a divorce situation, but you may need the help of a Colorado Springs military divorce attorney to understand it.

Whether you’re stationed at NORAD, Peterson AFB, or just returning from a long deployment in Iraq, getting a divorce is never easy on anyone; but in the military it is even more stressful.  Military service members don’t always have the luxury of time because they never know when they will be sent somewhere else.  For this reason, it’s important to find an attorney who can work quickly on your behalf; one that understands the complicated nature of military divorce, and who can help you hold on to the retirement benefits you’ve worked so hard to earn.

It is always the first question that a service member asks when consulting with a Colorado Springs military divorce attorney, so it must be the most pressing issue in a military divorce.  There is a good reason why military personnel worry so much about the impact of a divorce on their military retired pay.  After all, Colorado is an equitable distribution state, as is just about every state in the Union, but what does this mean in a military divorce?

Before you make any assumptions about equitable distribution, it is important to note that Colorado military divorce laws do not require an “equal” distribution of your military retirement.  First, the state will determine if a portion of the member’s military retirement pay is actually considered “marital property” in the divorce settlement and if so what portion of it falls into that category.  Then, the marital asset portion is divided in an equitable manner; just as every other marital asset is divided. How does a military divorce differ from a regular divorce when dividing retirement pay?

A Colorado Springs military divorce attorney will help you understand the Uniform Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act (USFSPA).  While this law recognizes the state’s right to distribute marital assets equitably, it also provides a way to determine which part of the service member’s retired pay is actually a “marital asset,” and when it is appropriate to enforce the division of this asset using DOD resources.

In order to determine the portion of a military service member’s retired pay that is considered military property, a divorce attorney will use a simple formula, or fraction. The numerator would be the number of years or months the parties were married during the service member’s military service, and the denominator is the total number of years or months of their creditable military service.  If the answer to results in 70 percent, then this is how much of the service member’s retired pay that would be considered a marital asset.  This figure would then be subject to the distribution allocation that is determined by the court.

If you need guidance in determining how your military retired pay will be distributed in a divorce, consult with a Colorado Springs military divorce attorney.

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