Major Changes Impacting Military Divorces

In a divorce in Pennsylvania, the marital assets are subject to a process of equitable distribution among the spouses.  If a spouse is a current or former member of the military, he/she may be entitled to a future pension, with a monthly benefit calculated based upon years of service and rank at the time of retirement.  While many pensions do not pay benefits until retirement, the value of the pension must be addressed in advance at the time of the divorce.  A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) is then entered, which directs that a retirement plan pay a portion of future benefits to the non-military spouse.

The National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), PL 114-328, applies to divorces occurring after December 23, 2016 and has a significant impact on how military pensions are valued.  The NDAA will treat the military member as if he/she had retired on the date the divorce is finalized, and calculates a hypothetical monthly benefit based on that fixed point in time.  That hypothetical benefit will be the only portion of the pension to which the non-military spouse has a claim.  Even through the military member might continue serving after the divorce, resulting in increases to the pension, that additional time will not be considered when dividing the pension.

With passage of the NDAA, the military spouse will receive a greater portion of his/her pension.

For more information and a consultation, contact our Law Firm, Supinka & Supinka, PC.

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