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Do you have a claim to part of your spouse's military pension?

Marriage to a military service person can be quite difficult. Your loved one will have aspects of their job they simply can't share with you for privacy reasons. There is also the intense strain caused by prolonged absences. Still, it is possible for couples to work hard to maintain their relationship even during the stress of active military service.

Sadly, couples who successfully make it through their working years still married can find themselves considering divorce as retirement approaches or after your spouse transitions to civilian life. Retirement means spending a lot more time together every day. You may find that you and your spouse no longer have enough common ground to really enjoy your time together.

If you are considering a divorce from a spouse whose military career has led to a pension, it's important that you know your rights as a military spouse.

Your ex made more money because of the marriage

The military pay structure takes the family status of each employee into consideration. Workers who have spouses or children to support will require higher wages than those currently who are still single. Both the wages and housing stipend military members receive will reflect the size of their household.

Your spouse made more money throughout the course of their career because you agreed to marry them and have children with them. They were also able to focus on their military career in part because of your support with the household or the children. While you don't earn wages for the work you perform as a spouse, the military rules about pensions do consider your support. You may have the right to certain benefits as well.

The longer your marriage lasted, the greater your claim to some portion of your spouse's military pension. Typically, marriages that last less than 10 years will result in some sharing of pensions and retirement savings, although the courts will manage that process. In the event that your marriage lasted longer than 10 years, the Department of Defense itself will manage the process of dispersing a share of the pension to you.

There's no guarantee about how the courts split a military pension

Dividing assets in a divorce is a process that often becomes contentious. The courts will carefully look at everything from the individual financial contributions of each spouse to the unpaid labor that each person performed during the marriage.

The exact outcome of the asset division process and specifically the handling of the military pension will vary depending on the circumstances of your marriage. However, you can rest assured that, barring unusual legal circumstances such as a prenuptial agreement, the pension is subject to division, especially for longer marriages.

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