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What is the 10/10 rule for military pensions in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2020 | Military Divorce |

Divorce is complicated even in the simplest of situations, but when your spouse is a member of the military, there can be a whole new set of concerns for the two of you. Misinformation abounds when it comes to divorce and the rights of spouses.

Many people don’t even understand the rules for civilian divorces in Georgia, let alone the nuances of military divorces. People have often heard of the 10/10 rule regarding a military pension. However, quite a few people misunderstand what the rule means and what impact it has on their right to claim a share of the pension their spouse has earned during their active service. What does the 10/10 rule mean for you as a non-military spouse to a service member?

The 10/10 rule has to do with who pays you, not the right to claim the pension

The military’s 10/10 rule confuses people in a way that makes them less likely to ask for their fair share of marital assets.

Some mistakenly believed that the 10/10 rule means that only those who have been married for 10 years can claim a portion of their spouse’s military pension. Other people think that they can only ask for a share of the pension in a divorce if their spouse actively served in the military for 10 years of their marriage.

However, neither the length of your marriage nor the amount of time that your partner actively served during your marriage affects your right to a share of the pension. Instead, the 10/10 rule has to do with who distributes the pension. 

Georgia family courts will be the ones to decide how to split the pensions

Provided that your spouse accrued pension benefits during your marriage, you may be able to claim some of their pension as marital property subject to division. Depending on the length of your marriage and multiple other factors, the judge presiding over your case can decide how to split the pension.

The 10/10 rule won’t affect how much of the pension you receive or if you receive any at all. Instead, it will dictate whether your spouse has to make arrangements to share those benefits with you or if the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) will directly distribute pension benefits to you.

Only spouses whose marriage to a military service member lasted at least 10 years and whose spouse was active duty for at least 10 years of their marriage qualify for direct disbursement from the DFAS. Otherwise, while you may have a claim to a portion of the pension, the DFAS won’t be the party that pays it to you.

Military divorces are often complicated, so you may want to get advice on your rights and options early in the process to ensure a positive outcome.