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Dividing a Pension in Arkansas Military Divorces

Property division can be a difficult task in any divorce. However, if one of the spouses is a current or retired member of the military, the ordeal can be even more complicated.

This is because many military members are entitled to valuable pensions governed by special federal laws. As such the process of splitting up retirement accounts follows different rules in a military divorce.

Generally speaking, the spouse of a military member is entitled to one-half of the pension value that accrued during the time the couple was married. For example, if a servicemember was in the military for 20 years, and was married for 10 of those years, the spouse would, in most cases, be entitled to 25 percent of the pension's value.

The process for obtaining this share, though, can sometimes be difficult. If the couple was married for at least 10 years during the military member's service period, the government will send the appropriate benefit directly to the ex-spouse. However, it the marriage overlaps the military service by less than a decade, the couple is on their own. In an Arkansas marriage dissolution, this usually means that the ex-spouse needs to obtain a court order. Often, this is done as part of the overall divorce proceeding.

Ex-spouses should also understand that they will not be able to keep receiving benefits after the military member dies, unless they file for survivor benefits during the divorce process.

Ex-spouses can also run into trouble down the road if benefits change, for example, if the servicemember seeks a disability rating.

These are only a few of the concerns unique to military divorces. If you or your spouse is a current or former military member, be sure to discuss these issues with your Arkansas divorce attorney.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Divorce: Splitting Up a Rich Military Pension," Ellen E. Schultz, March 9, 2012.

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