Divorce is complicated by nature. With the addition of military benefits, it can be difficult to figure out where to start, even before paperwork is filed. Since military pensions are much different than standard pensions, and are not subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), their equitable division can appear murky.

This makes it important to find a lawyer with intricate knowledge of a military divorce. Even before hiring a lawyer, there are things to know and prepare for in your divorce.


The first thing your lawyer will want are the documents. This is to first assess what retirement benefits are available before proceeding in a divorce case. These documents include a Leave and Earnings Statement for active duty members, Retirement Points Statement for Reserve and Guard members, Retiree Account Statement for retirees, SBP election forms, retirement orders, and discharge papers, along with Officer or Enlisted Record Briefs. Having these documents handy will make a more productive initial consultation with your lawyer.

Important Laws

Unsurprisingly, there are specific laws that govern a military divorce and how benefits will be divided. These protections fall under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act, which allows states to divide military retirement pay. However, the Act leaves it up to individual states to decide how the specifics of division are handled. Be sure to check your state’s laws, or have your attorney explain them to you, so you are better prepared for the process.

Length of Marriage and Service Time

divorce lawyer in PhiladelphiaHow long the marriage lasted will have a big effect on how assets are handled. There must be at least ten years of marriage that overlapped with ten years of service. For marriages that are less than ten years, the former spouse is still eligible to claim a share of the retired pay but they would not receive the payment directly, as they would after ten years. Instead, the retiree would make payments to the former spouse.

20/20/20 Spouses

On the other side, those who have been married longer than ten years have more options. For spouses that were married for 20 years that overlapped with 20 years of military service and have not remarried, they may qualify for full medical benefits as a 20/20/20 spouse.

If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage after years of marriage during their military service, it pays to have someone on your side to explain the intricacies of military divorce law. Our South Jersey divorce lawyers at Reinherz & Reinherz can help. Contact us today for a consultation on your military divorce.