Military Retirement Pay Division is not Alimony
The term Military Lifetime Alimony is beginning to surface on the Internet. There continues to be confusion between spousal support and the requirements for division of property provided by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA).
Those who would like to change the USFSPA appear to be describing the statute as military lifetime alimony, which is incorrect.
When Internet articles refer to the division of the military pension as equating to lifetime military alimony payments and then other blogs create spin-off articles repeating this gossipy phrase, the result is numerous postings spreading misinformation like a virus. Spin off articles are often created by websites using article curation software that will copy (or steal) phrases from websites. But even worse, an actual person might read the first “half-truth” posting and made a conscious decision to spread the tale.
Alimony is just alimony. There’s no special military alimony laws for military families. There’s no military alimony requirements. Depending on the state you divorce in, alimony may be:
- set for a number of months, or
- awarded for a lifetime.
Federal laws permit states to declare the military retired pay as marital property and in doing so, states may then divide this property, awarding payments to the military spouse. This division lasts for a lifetime, but it is not alimony.
In fact, a military spouse can be awarded both a portion of military retirement pay and alimony in a divorce decree.
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Confusion May Cost You Money
The language of your military divorce decree should keep the references to alimony payments and division of military retiree pay separate so as to avoid any confusion. It can be expensive to return to court for clarification. Alimony falls under the requirements of spousal support, where as payments from a service members’ income falls under laws regulating property or division of assets.
Military Lifetime Alimony is another military divorce myth, similar to misunderstandings behind the DFAS 10 year rule.
Florida, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have been discussing 2013 changes and/or an end to lifetime alimony, but this should not be confused with the military division of property awarded by the USFSPA.