Any divorce can quickly become complicated, but military divorces have many unique considerations that civilian families don’t have to worry about. The asset division process in any divorce either goes through the courts or gets resolved by the couple prior to filing an uncontested divorce.
The larger the asset, the more likely it is that spouses won’t necessarily agree about the best and fairest way to split that asset. Arguments over the family home are common. Additionally, couples often disagree about how to fairly split a pension.
There is much confusion regarding how the military handles pensions for divorced service members and their spouses that may lead people to assume that their military divorce will have a certain outcome when their expectations don’t actually align with the law in Texas.
There are alternatives to splitting the pension
If you hope to avoid diminishing the value of the pension for one reason or another, there are other ways for your family to approach the pension in divorce proceedings. However, typically you will need to work with your spouse if you want to set such a specific goal for the divorce.
In an uncontested divorce filing, you can make arrangements to allocate other assets to compensate the spouse who doesn’t receive a share of the pension. Agreeing to use other marital assets to offset the value of the pension accrued during the marriage could be one way to retain all the pension benefits without depriving a spouse of their fair share of the marital assets.
The 10-year pension rule for military service members is widely misunderstood
If you were to ask someone about the 10-year rule for military pensions, the chances are good that they are somewhat familiar with the idea. However, quite a few people seem to believe that this rule means that only marriages that last 10 years or longer result in the division of a military pension.
What the rule actually states is that the Department of Defense will only directly distribute pension benefits to the former spouse of a military service member if the marriage lasted 10 years. Under Texas law, there is no minimum length of marriage for one spouse to have a claim to share in some of the pension benefits accrued during the marriage.
The longer the marriage and the more substantial the contributions to the pension during that time, the more significant the amount that the non-military spouse can potentially receive. Regardless of the duration of the marriage, it is likely that the courts will allocate at least some of the value of the pension, if not a portion of the pension account itself, to the non-military spouse.