The 10/10 Rule
Like anyone else, military personnel marry and divorce, and many require help separating assets and obligations, especially those granted by the military itself. In order to help with this, several guidelines and rules have been passed, many of which help to integrate military divorce procedure with standard civilian law. The so-called 10/10 Rule is one of these, but its scope is often misunderstood by all involved. If you are going through a divorce, the 10/10 rule does have a part to play, but its scope is often overstated, which can lead to misunderstandings and potential issues, especially with spousal support.
For many years, military retired pay and other benefits were largely untouchable by civilian courts. In 1982, however, Congress passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), which granted civilian courts the right to dispose of military retired pay if mentioned in a couple’s divorce decree. It also permits issues of back child support and spousal support to be handled by civilian authorities if necessary, rather than using the at-times cumbersome military process.
Be advised that the USFSPA protects benefits only to a former spouse, and it only deals with issues to come out of standard retired pay. If, for example, a military member or ex-servicemember is drawing disability retired pay, the USFSPA will not grant the authority to dispose of any portion of such funds. It does not mean that you as a spouse may not be entitled to any portion of that pay, just that it may not be reachable through the USFSPA.
If you are awarded a division of your ex-spouse’s military retirement pay in your civilian divorce decree, this is permissible under the USFSPA. However, the question of where it originates from is regulated by the 10/10 rule, which is a specific part of the Act. The rule states that if you have been married to your spouse for 10 years or more, and at least 10 of those years were spent in service that is creditable toward retirement eligibility, your civilian divorce decree will be enforced under the Act.
That said, there is nothing in the Act that prohibits you and your spouse from working out a compromise on your own which might involve the use of retired pay to cover awards like spousal or child support. The 10/10 Rule merely enables you to receive your portion of your spouse’s retired pay directly from the Defense Finance & Accounting Service (DFAS), instead of your spouse paying you directly. Some labor under the misconception that you are not entitled to any portion of retired pay unless the 10/10 rule applies to you, and this is not the case. You may be entitled to retired pay, but not necessarily via DFAS.
Ask A Military Divorce Attorney
Military divorces can be noticeably more complex than their civilian counterparts, and as such, it can be an advantage to enlist an experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable about the fine points of such proceedings. The Hollywood military divorce attorneys of Steven A. Mason, P.A. are happy to work with you to ensure your questions are answered. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.