As discussed in previous blog posts on this subject, military pension orders provide for the division of a service member’s pension benefits to ex-spouses after the completion of a divorce, separation, annulment or dissolution of a marriage. The military pension order must include certain information in order to be honored by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), which will issue payments to the stated beneficiaries. (Of course, these orders also must be approved as part of a divorce action or separation proceeding and must be incorporated into such court’s final decree.)
Because the division of military pension benefits is not governed by ERISA, there is no requirement for a separate order from the judgment itself. The division may be contained in clauses in the judgment, or the parties may uses a separate order.
In order to effectuate a successful division for the military member and his or her ex-spouse, the pension division clauses must include:
1. The names and addresses of the parties, as well as their SSN’s;
2. The years of marriage and of military service;
3. The military member’s grade or rank;
4. A statement that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) rights of the member have been honored (if the member is on active duty when the decree is entered)
5. Jurisdictional findings (domicile, consent, or residence) under 10 U.S.C. 1408 (c)(4);
6. A statement that DFAS should pay the spouse at his/her address as shown therein.
7. A statement as to what DFAS will pay the spouse, and this must be a fixed dollar amount per month or a percentage of the monthly payment
These elements must be included in any military pension clause or order so as to ensure that DFAS will be able to make payments in a manner consistent with the intent of the parties.
Payments are made once a month, starting no earlier than 90 days after service of the decree on DFAS or the start of retired pay, whichever is later. The payments end no later than the death of the member or spouse, whichever occurs first. Payments are prospective only; no arrears are allowed.
The Wilson Law Firm, a Professional Corporation, at 1120 Iron Point Rd Suite 100, Folsom, CA 95630 represents parties involved in domestic relations disputes. Call The Wilson Law Firm, a Professional Corporation at the firm’s office at: 916-608-8891 to set up an appointment to speak with Attorney Dennis Wilson or visit its website at http://wilsonlawfirmca.com /.