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Colorado Military Divorce Laws and Your Military Retirement

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

blog-logoIf there is one thing that makes a military service member nervous, it is the prospect of losing part of his or her retirement in a divorce settlement.  Whether on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan, training soldiers at U.S. Air Force Academy or working behind the scenes elsewhere, military personnel rely on their retirement benefits as a reward for their many years of hard work.  However, since Colorado military divorce laws call for the equitable distribution of marital assets, service members often worry about its impact on their retirement pay.

Before you start thinking otherwise, 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? 

In a military divorce, a national military law comes into play.  It is called the Uniform Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act (USFSPA), and it recognizes the state courts’ right to distribute military retirement pay to an ex-spouse or surviving spouse.  It also provides a way of enforcing these orders.  When Colorado military divorce laws indicate that the amount of retired pay that is considered a marital asset is divided a certain way, the USFSPA will allow that order to be enforced through the Department of Defense.

How do Colorado military divorce laws determine the “marital property” portion of military retired pay?

To determine how much of a military service member’s retired pay is military property, one would simply create a 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 80 percent, then that is the amount of military retired pay that is considered a marital asset.  This figure would then be distributed equitably according to the percentages set by the court.

To learn more about Colorado military divorce laws of the division of military retired pay, consult with a military divorce attorney from the Marrison Family Law LLC.

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