Military Spouse Benefits after Divorce
When it comes to divorce, the most common concern between military spouses is whether they will retain certain benefits. After separation, a divorced military spouse can either lose or keep some of their entitlements to enjoying benefits.
Although the subject may be much wider and more complicated, this article tries to best summarize the discussion surrounding the benefits for a divorced military spouse.
What Benefits Does a Former Military Spouse Hold?
Many programs are provided to families once a member joins the military. Some programs include benefits that spouses can use, and even after a divorce, some of the benefits can be retained.
The military retirement benefits are considerably valuable and their value will grow with time as the length of marriage increases. The accumulated amount is divided amongst the couple upon legal separation. However, the retirement payment cannot be received unless the member in service completes their term and retires from the military service.
Below is a list of the benefits awarded to a former military partner.
What Are the Military Spouse Benefits after Divorce?
1. Military Retirement Benefits
Even after just a short period in marriage, an ex-military spouse can be allowed a percentage of the retirement funds. However, a shorter marriage period means a smaller fraction of the money. For short-term marriages, the court can determine whether the retirement share of benefit is worth dividing based on the assumption the service member may or may not retire.
2. Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
The Thrift Savings Plan is a contribution plan offered by the military. They defined it as a divisible contribution in case of a divorce. The TSP is similar to a 401(k) plan and can be claimed by a former spouse as a partial replacement for the military retirement funds.
3. VA Disability Payments
Under normal circumstances, Veterans Administration disability benefits are usually not eligible for division during divorce no matter how long the marriage lasted. However, in cases where a child support fund is claimed, the VA disability contributions are included as income. Therefore, the retired service member’s former spouse may recognize the benefits of the funds.
4. Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits
The circumstances under which a former spouse may end up being granted a Post-9/11 GI Bill are rare. A Post-9/11 GI Bill is a fund offered to a member or their family member that can add up to $160K of college allotment. Only when a service member is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill during the divorce does the former spouse get a division of the funds.
5. Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
A former spouse can only benefit from SBP if the marriage lasted for over a year. They were still married at the time the service member retired or had children together. Since retirement payments cease being paid upon the service member’s death, SBP is essential. Without it, the beneficiaries will receive nothing after the said death occurs.
There is more to the benefits retained by former military spouses, such as the 20/20/20 benefits and status entitlements covering deeper aspects of the topic.
Seek Legal Counsel
If eligible, a service member’s family can enjoy several privileges even after a divorce. Although a divorce process is not an easy issue, it can be made easier by getting some legal assistance. With legal counsel, you can better understand all the benefits you have the right to obtain. Make note, the military also offers legal assistance.