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Military divorce in Georgia: Will your retirement pay be safe?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Military Divorce |

Divorce can be a daunting prospect, often particularly for service members who have devoted a significant portion of their lives to the military. Among the various concerns during a divorce, the division of retirement pay is often a critical issue for service members.

If you’re a service member anticipating a divorce, you can expect a portion of your retirement to be awarded to your soon-to-be ex. However, you should know that federal protections are in place to help ensure your financial security.

What is military retirement pay?

As is the case with 401(k) and other retirement packages, military retirement pay is considered marital property. As such, it is subject to division upon divorce, similar to other assets like real estate or financial accounts. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) empowers state courts to treat military retirement pay as either sole or community property according to state laws.

Georgia follows an equitable property division model. This translates to a fair, but not necessarily equal, division of marital property. The family court presiding over your divorce will consider various elements of your marriage, like length and financial dependence, to determine how to slip the property.

The USFSPA plays a role in military divorce

As its name suggests, the USFSPA governs various dealings that involve service members. Therefore, it plays a role in the division of military retirement benefits in divorce cases. You should know that USFSPA is a federal law that supersedes state marital property laws. According to its provisions, your soon-to-be ex has certain rights concerning their share of your retirement pay.

However, your soon-to-be ex can only be granted these rights if they’ve been married to you for ten or more years during a period of creditable military service. If not, they may not be entitled to a portion of your disposable retired pay. Disposable retired pay refers to the amount remaining after deductions for health insurance and other authorized expenses.

While a divorce in Georgia can be challenging for you as a service member, understanding the role of USFSPA and how the state courts handle a military retirement division can help. By seeking legal help and taking proactive steps, you can navigate this process and secure a fair outcome that can help to protect your financial future.