What are an ex-spouse’s rights to a military pension?

UPDATED: Jul 13, 2010

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What are an ex-spouse’s rights to a military pension?

I am a Dutch woman and was married for 18 years to an American AF member. He served 20 years and retired. I was told that according to US law if you have been married longer then 10 years while a member of the military served you are entitled to half of their retirement. We divorced in 2003 (got married/divorced in Holland). Divorce was translated into English also. He always paid but I just received an e-mail from him that he wants to pay a lot less starting 08/01. I was advised by an US lawyer during the time of the divorce to get the divorce done in Holland and have a US lawyer file a claim with a court as to division of assets.

Asked on July 13, 2010 under Family Law, Arkansas


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I think that you have to go and see someone who is an expert on military pensions, which are not really pensions at all.  They are "retired pay" that is determined quite differently than regular pensions.  Military retired pay is calculated by points accumulated for each year served and with cost of living adjustments made each year by Congress. In a divorce where retired pay is an issue, the spouse is entitled to half of the points earned during the marriage. So if you were married to him for 18 of the 20 years then you are only entitled to half of the retired pay for the 18 years and not the last 2 years.  Is that his reasoning for the reduction? Get help from someone who knows the system.  Good luck.

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