Congress has declared, in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), that a military service member’s retirement is a property item that may be divided between that service member and his or her spouse. For many people, this comes as a surprise. This retirement asset can be distributed by a divorce judge, and it is important for you to know what to expect from the process.
At the Law Office of Douglas C. Smith in El Paso, I have practiced family law for 30 years throughout West Texas. I devote a significant amount of time and effort to helping service members and military families overcome the challenges of divorce and related family matters. My combination of military experience and a thorough understanding of the Texas Family Code can be a helpful resource as you.
Dividing military retirement benefits in a divorce can be complicated and the USFSPA does not give much guidance with regards to how benefits should be treated by attorneys who are in negotiations or by courts when making decrees. The state of Texas, which is a community property state, generally recognizes the civilian spouse as being entitled to receive half of the retirement benefits that the military spouse accrued during the marriage.
This does not mean that when the final property division agreement or court order is filed the award will be divided cleanly in half. Instead, the benefits will generally be divided between the parties fairly. There is also a benefit called the Survivor Benefit Plan that may also be divided or awarded to the former spouse.
As a former U.S. Army JAG officer, I have an understanding of military pensions and other benefits and know how to work with retirement benefits and property division.
To learn more information regarding military retirement and divorce, contact the Law Office of Douglas C. Smith for a free initial consultation. Call my firm at (915) 593-6600 or (915) 256-0579.