Going through a divorce is tough enough; but when one spouse is a member of the military, it can be even more complex than you can imagine. And the last thing you should need to worry about when going through a divorce is losing your pension and having what should be a relaxing retirement be left up in the air.
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is governed by each individual state, so the laws are slightly different depending on where you live. The state of North Carolina does not automatically guarantee alimony to either spouse. There are certain factors that help determine whether and how much spousal support is granted, like:
- Spouse’s earning capacity
- Financial needs of each spouse
- Length of marriage
- Each spouse’s age
- Standard of living during the marriage
When marital assets include military pension, federal laws also apply
In 1981, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act was passed, which legally allowed military pensions to be divided during a divorce. As long as you meet one of these requirements, you may split a military pension:
- Military spouse lives within or made North Carolina their permanent home
- Primary residence of the military spouse is in North Carolina and lives there other than for the purpose of military assignment
- Both spouses consent to jurisdiction
In order to protect the military spouse’s pension that was rightfully earned, there was an amendment to the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act later in 2017. The amendment now requires that all states only divide a portion of the military spouse’s pension.
The law states that only the amount of money a military spouse would receive in pension if they were to retire on the day of their divorce is divisible, even if they end up earning more than that after their divorce. This would also include adjustments for cost of living between the date of divorce and actual retirement.
Your military pension is a marital asset in Charlotte
North Carolina considers military pensions marital assets, and therefore divisible during a divorce. But if you are worried that your soon-to-be ex-spouse will wipe you clean of your retirement fund, here is some relief: an ex-spouse is only entitled to 50% of a military member’s disposable retired pay at most. Plus, remember that your ex-spouse is not entitled to any amount of money from your military pension. While they can certainly fight for more, it is ultimately up to the court to determine exactly how much they can be given.
In order for your ex-spouse to even qualify for a portion of your pension, there are certain requirements. You must have served in the military for at least 10 years and your marriage must have also lasted for at least 10 years. If your ex-spouse wants further benefits like Tricare, commissary, and exchange privileges, then the requirements are a little more complex. You must have served in the military for at least 20 years, and your marriage must have lasted for and overlapped at least 20 years of your service.
What you should know about disability payments and their effect on retirement
Disability is not considered part of the retirement benefits, and as such, a spouse may not be entitled to any portion if the entire benefit is deemed disability. Because disability payments are considered income, they will be included in any calculations for alimony and child support.
However, if you receive both retirement pay and disability compensation through the Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay (CRDP) program or the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) program, your spouse may be entitled to a portion of the retirement pay. Note that CRDP is taxable, but CRSC is not. Furthermore, once your divorce is official, your disability payments will likely decrease, as you will lose the spousal credit.
Find an experienced military family law attorney who is on your side
If you are an active duty military member or a veteran and are considering divorce, it is best to consult with an experienced military family law attorney. It is crucial you completely understand the unique rules and regulations that apply when it comes to your divorce, and the team at Epperson Law Group, PLLC is here to help.
James L. Epperson served as part of the United States Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. Steven B. Ockerman is a graduate of The Naval Academy and a veteran of the Marine Corps, who served as part of the United States Marine Corps’ Judge Advocate Division. In these positions, they helped military personnel and military families with a wide range of legal services. Their training also allows them to then act as trial or defense counsel at military courts-martial.
James Epperson and Steven Ockerman are proud of their experience serving their country and helping other military members like yourself. Having personal military knowledge and background allows them to understand the unique aspects of your case with great clarity. Knowing first-hand how hard it was to earn your pension, our skilled attorneys will do their best to help you fight to keep it. Along with their experience and additional training that allowed them to effectively help defend the United States military members in a variety of legal matters, they would make the perfect partners to help you in your case.
Do you need help fighting for your military pension during a divorce? If so, you need the experience of a military family law attorney on your side. The compassionate team at Epperson Law Group, PLLC, fights to get you the outcome you deserve. Call our office at 704-321-0031, or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment today. You can schedule an appointment at any of our offices in Charlotte, Weddington, Concord, or Boone.
Epperson Law Group, PLLC, is guided by a commitment to helping clients achieve favorable results in an efficient manner. Our Charlotte divorce and family law attorneys work with clients every day who face a range of divorce, custody, and other family law issues. We are equipped to help you appropriately resolve some of the most important legal matters you will ever need to address. We invite you to learn more about our team.