A spouse is entitled to their share of the military pension no matter how insignificant. Under the 10 year rule, where the parties have been married for 10 years and the servicemember has accumulated 10 years of service, DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Services) can pay the spouse directly. When the 10 year rule has not been met the servicemember will be responsible to pay the spouse themselves. This, of course, makes it harder to enforce the distribution of the pension. A court can only award a division of a military pension if it has jurisdiction over the servicemember via residence, domicile or consent. Only disposable retired pay can be divided. This is the total monthly pay less certain deductions. The highest percentage a spouse can receive of the military retired pay is 50%. The spouse will stop receiving military pay when the service-member dies.
In order to continue to receive benefits after the death of the servicemember, a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) must be in place. The plan is available if both parties elect it and pay the required premium. It will allow the spouse to continue to receive retired pay post-death of the servicemember. The surviving spouse is entitled to 55% of the retired pay received by the retiree. To ensure the spouse receives the SBP as a former spouse, you must complete a deemed election specifying that the spouse will be named as a former spouse under the SBP within one year of the dissolution of the marriage.