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Military pay, benefits and ex-spouses

There are many advantages that Virginia residents can take from offering their service to the United States military. Aside from excellent training and experience, service members can retire from their military careers with substantial pensions and good benefits for themselves and their family members. However, when a service member and their spouse choose to divorce, it can be hard to know just what will happen with the financial and benefits-based perks a service member collects from their branch of the military.

When civilians divorce, the assets and wealth that the parties earned during their marriage are considered marital and subject to division by the divorce court. This is generally the same for military couples, thanks in part to the laws of the state where the couple secures their divorce and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act.

The USFSPA makes divisible certain military benefits between spouses when the couple has been married for a requisite number of years. For example, a non-military spouse of a service member may be entitled to some of the service member's military pay if the couple was married for at least ten years and the service member performed at least ten years of qualifying service.

Also, under the USFSPA, a spouse can continue to collect other benefits, such as health care and commissary, if their marriage lasted at least 20 years and their service member spouse performed at least 20 years of qualifying service. Knowing how to divide military pay and benefits during a divorce can be complex, but, with the help of a knowledgeable military divorce attorney, a service member can make good decisions about how to successfully and responsibly end their marriage.

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