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How do military pensions/retirement accounts work?

Yes. In order for a former spouse to receive payments directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the member and former spouse must have been married for 10 years during which the member was performing military service creditable towards his/her retirement. In other words, if the marriage did not last for 10 years which coincide with 10 years of military service on the part of the member, DFAS will not honor an order awarding benefits to the former spouse.

However, just because the 10 Year Rule is not met does not mean that a former spouse does not have a claim against retired pay. According to the laws of most states, retirement benefits accumulated during the period of marriage are deemed marital or community property. Therefore, it is possible for a former spouse to be awarded a portion of the member’s retirement. However, the former spouse would have to receive his/her interest in the retirement benefits elsewhere (i.e. equity in the home, cash, payment made directly from the member, etc.).

63. Is it possible to use the number of points earned by the Member during the marriage to determine the portion of the military benefits earned during the marriage?

Yes. It is common for members of the reserves to use points rather than time to determine the amount of his/her benefits which accumulated during the period of marriage. Since reservists earn a point for each day served, it is possible for someone to serve more days in one year than they do in another year. Since the number of points earned dictates the amount of the retirement benefit payable, it is not entirely accurate to assume that the same amount was earned towards retirement each year. Therefore, it is possible to write an Order which determines the marital portion by comparing the number of points earned during the marriage to the total number of points earned at retirement.