Can a spouse get military benefits in a divorce? The 10/10 Rule

Military pensions and Thrift Savings Plans often come up as issues in a divorce involving service members. Service members often hear about the mythical "10/10" rule from other service members or friends and interpret this to mean that if they divorce before they have been married for ten years or before they have been in service for ten years, their spouse is not entitled to any of their military benefits. This is false.


The 10/10 Rule generally states that if the marriage lasted 10 years and the service member or former service member served at least 10 years in the military during that marriage, the former spouse shall be able to receive pension benefits directly from the Defendant and Account Services (DFAS).


The rule simply addresses the source of payment, a direct payment from DFAS, to the spouse and assures that the divorced spouse does not miss any payments, it does NOT keep the spouse from getting benefits if they have been married LESS than 10 years.


The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) authorizes state courts (like a divorce court) to distribute military pensions/benefits to a former spouse. Thus making military pensions, benefits and Thrift Savings Plans marital assets to be divided in a divorce, regardless of the length of the marriage.


In short, the fabled "10/10" rule does not prevent a spouse from being able to get benefits accrued during a marriage, even of that marriage lasts less than 10 years or if the service member has been in service for less than 10 years.


Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr handles cases in the counties of Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Van Buren and St. Joseph, call today for a consultation. 269-381-4471