If you or your spouse serves in the U.S. military, one of the most important aspects of your divorce will be the division of the military pension. The law as it relates to military divorce changed drastically in December 2016 when the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 was signed by then-President Obama.
In this issue, the San Diego military divorce experts with the Men’s Legal Center will explain how the law concerning the division of military pension was changed, and how those changes could affect your divorce case.
How did the law regarding division of military pensions change?
Before the new law was signed, individual states decided which formula they would use to divide military pensions in divorce cases. California, for example, followed the “Time Rule.”
Essentially, the idea behind the Time Rule was that the division of the pension revolved around the number of years of military service during the marriage. For example, if you served in the military for twenty (20) years and were married for fifteen (15) years during that time, five (5) years’ worth of that pension would be considered your separate property, while the other fifteen (15) years’ worth of the pension would be deemed community property.
The new rule, nicknamed the “Frozen Benefit Rule,” locks in place the value of the pension at the time of the divorce. Even if the military member continues to serve after the divorce and rises in rank – which translates into a higher pension – the other party would be entitled to a portion of the benefits as they were valued at the time of the divorce.
For example, if the service member was a corporal at the time of the divorce but went on to earn the rank of sergeant by the time of retirement, the other spouse would be entitled to a portion of the pension as it was valued when the service member was a corporal.
Keep in mind that this is a bare-bones explanation, so you should definitely seek the advice of a San Diego military divorce attorney to guide you through the process.
When did the new law for military pension division go into effect?
There was no grace period. All states recognized the Frozen Benefit Rule in December 2016.
Are you a service man seeking a military divorce in San Diego? Call the Men’s Legal Center.
With about 110,700 active duty personnel and 118,300 family members here in San Diego, we’ve made it a point to know the ins and outs of the military divorce process, and can provide invaluable help and expertise every step of the way.
For more information about military divorce in San Diego, get in touch with us here at the Men’s Legal Center by calling 619-234-3838 or via email.