Do ex military spouses always get retirement pay?
After they retire, many military members in Illinois are going to continue getting retirement payments. These can be used somewhat like a pension plan, allowing the person to live comfortably even after he or she stops working.
Now, for those who are married, the military member and his or her spouse will both benefit from the payments. For those who are divorced, there is no federal law ensuring that the ex-spouse will always get part of the payments, as well. However, it is possible for these ex-spouses to claim at least a portion of the provided benefits.
To do so, the ex spouse has to go to the state court and get a court order saying that the money is to be divided. This is examined and determined on a case-by-case basis.
There is some confusion about this among the general population, due to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, or USFSPA, which was passed back in 1981. People think that it mandates that this retirement pay has to be split up during a divorce like all other marital property, thus providing a portion for each party.
This is not the case. The USFSPA does make it possible for the court to do this, but it does not make it mandatory. Therefore, the case has to be considered and an order must be given to make such division obligatory.
If you’re involved in a case about retirement pay, make sure you know what legal steps have to be taken, and be sure that you know exactly what the USFSPA does and does not do.
Source: Defense Finance and Accounting Service, “Frequently Asked Questions,” accessed June 11, 2015