Even though divorce is a very common American experience, there is still a lot of confusion about it. Even in civilian divorces, the difference in rules from state to state can leave people uncertain about their rights and the steps they need to take to protect themselves.
When you are in the military or married to a service member, there is an extra layer of complexity to your divorce. There is also even more misinformation floating around out there. One of the most misunderstood aspects of military divorce is probably the 10/10 rule for military pensions.
How does the 10/10 rule work?
Many people think that the 10/10 rule says you have to have been married for 10 years for pension-sharing rules to apply. In reality, the military rule doesn’t actually determine who gets to share in the pension.
That decision either falls to the couple divorcing if they agree on a settlement or the civilian courts. What the 10/10 rule really determines is who will pay the benefits to the non-military spouse. If you have stayed married for 10 years and if your spouse was on active duty service for 10 years of the marriage, then the non-military spouse can request direct distribution of their share of the pension.
Effectively, the 10/10 rule determines whether the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will pay benefits directly to the spouse. Even if this rule does not apply, a dependent spouse could still receive pension benefits, although they won’t come directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
The better you know the rules in a military divorce, the easier it is to navigate this complex process. Experienced legal guidance can help.