Divorce involving military personnel and dependents is unique and challenging. You not only deal with standard divorce related issues such as child support and custody but there is also Survivor Benefits, whether or not you will be able to continue to access to government housing and military installations such as the commissary.
Add to that the division of military retired pay and it isn't any wonder to process is so confusing. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse's Protection Act (USFSPA) , a federal law that defines how states can handle the division of military retirement during divorce is often misunderstood on this particular subject.
I receive at least one email a week from a dependent spouse who believes that the USFSPA guarantees her/him a portion of their spouse's military retirement pay if they are married 10 years or more. Nothing could be further from the truth.
According to the USFSPA, "a court may treat disposable retired pay payable to a member for pay periods beginning after June 25, 1981, either as property solely of the member or as property of the member and his spouse in accordance with the law of the jurisdiction of such court."
In other words, military retirement is treated like any other property acquired DURING the marriage and is divided as such at the courts discretion. So, to clarify, there are no laws that grant a spouse any portion of military retired pay. Whether a spouse is awarded a portion of such pay is solely up to the judge who presides over the case during the divorce process.