military spouse divorce

Divorcing Military Spouse: Entitled to Pension?


When you have a spouse serving in the military, there are a number of benefits due the both of you. One of those benefits would be the pension that your spouse gets after serving for a certain number of years. But should you choose to get a divorce, will that affect your supposed part in your spouse’s pension?

Military Pension

A military pension is a monetary benefit for those who have served in the military for at least 20 years. Think of it as a retirement fund of sorts. The only difference between a regular pension and the military pension is that you cannot avail it ahead of time. If you are married, your pension becomes marital property. This means that your spouse can get a portion of your pension when you receive it.

Divorce’s Effects on Pension

If you divorce a spouse currently serving in the military, you are still eligible to get a portion of your spouse’s pension when they get it. The amount that you get depends entirely on what state you are in. The default for most states regarding the amount a person gets from their ex’s military pension would be half of whatever pension is given. It does not matter if you divorced your spouse long before they retired. You get half of whatever they are given when they retire.

In other states, such as Texas, the “frozen benefit rule” is applied. This rule states that an ex-spouse is only given a portion of the pension their spouse would get during the time they got the divorce. What does that mean? That means that the spouse would only get the pension of their spouse’s military rank or position at the time they were divorced. In a sense, their benefits are “frozen” in that point in time. But this rule only applies to divorces that were concluded after this ruling was passed and only in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee.

Working out the changes in your benefits after divorcing a spouse serving in the military can get very confusing. This is especially true for matters involving pension because not all states follow the same rule. If ever you want to figure out what rules would apply to you, it would be best to check the laws your state follows. That way, you avoid any unwanted confusion.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas.

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