Military Divorce: What is the USFSPA (Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act) ?

Posted by Anneshia Miller Grant, Esq.Feb 03, 20240 Comments

The USFSPA (Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act) is a federal law enacted in 1982 that addresses the division of military retired pay during divorce or separation. The primary purpose of the USFSPA is to provide a framework for state courts to treat military retired pay as marital property and to facilitate the enforcement of court-ordered spousal and child support payments from that income.

Key points about the USFSPA include:

  1. Treatment of Military Retired Pay as Property: The USFSPA allows state courts to treat military retired pay as a divisible asset during divorce proceedings. This means that the non-military spouse may be entitled to a portion of the military member's retired pay as part of the divorce settlement. In Virginia, any portion of a military member's retirement that accumulated during the marriage is considered a marital asset.

  2. 10/10 Rule: The USFSPA stipulates that for a former spouse to receive direct payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the military member and the spouse must have been married for at least 10 years overlapping with at least 10 years of the military member's creditable military service. If the marriage does not meet the 10/10 rule, the state court may still consider military retired pay as a divisible asset, but direct payments would need to be arranged between the parties.

  3. Court Orders: To divide military retired pay, a court order known as a "Qualified Domestic Relations Order" (QDRO) or a similar legal document is required. This order must comply with the specific requirements outlined in the USFSPA and must be accepted by the military pay center (usually DFAS) for implementation. 

  4. Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP): The USFSPA allows former spouses to elect coverage under the Survivor Benefit Plan, which provides a portion of the military member's retired pay to the former spouse in the event of the military member's death. The former spouse may need to pay premiums for this coverage.

It's important to note that the USFSPA is complex, and the specific details of how military retired pay is divided can vary based on state laws and individual circumstances. Individuals dealing with divorce involving military members should seek the advice of legal professionals, like those at AMG LAW, familiar with family law and military divorce to ensure their rights are protected and the necessary procedures are followed. Call us 540-208-5299 or 703-982-0076 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.