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What is the Unformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act?

If you are a going through a divorce that involves a member of the armed forces of the United States, you should be aware that there are some special considerations that will apply. One of these is the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, which gives the former spouse some rights.

Are the protections of the USFSPA automatically applied to divorces involving service members?

The protections of the USFSPA aren't automatic. Instead, the Act gives uniform guidelines to courts that are handling divorces that involve military members. It notes that a portion of the retirement pay would be qualified as marital property. It also allows the former spouse to be designated as a beneficiary on the Survivor Benefit Plan. Furthermore, it enables certain former spouses to receive TRICARE and commissary and exchange privileges.

What portion of retirement pay is considered marital property?

The exact portion can vary from case to case. The portion of the retirement pay that is considered marital property is determined by using a formula that includes subtracting certain allowances from the base amount. If the former spouse is awarded a portion of the retirement pay and also meets certain requirements, the pay comes to them directly. If the requirements aren't met, the pay would come from the service member. In either case, the court order must include the payment information.

There are several factors, including the length of credible service time and the length of the marriage, that determine how military service can affect a divorce. For service members or their former spouses, knowing these factors can help them decide which specific aspects of the divorce settlement they want their respective attorneys to pursue.

Source: Military.com, "Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Overview," accessed Aug. 11, 2016

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