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Navigating the Military Retirement Pay System During Your Virginia Divorce (Part A)

The military offers retirement pay to its members who've served in the armed forces, as well as qualifying survivors, such as former spouses. If you're going through a military divorce in Virginia, you should be aware that you'll likely still qualify to receive a portion of your former spouse's military retirement pay.

The amount of military retirement pay that a member and his survivors are eligible for is dependent upon many factors. To begin assessing your military retirement pay benefits eligibility after your military divorce in Virginia, first determine which type of pay your former spouse qualifies for.

The 2 main types of military retirement benefits include:

  • non-disability retired pay; and
  • disability retired pay. 

Calculating Non-disability Retired Pay

Non-disability retired pay, the most common form of payment in a military divorce in Virginia, is a monthly annuity paid for the duration of the member's life. It generally ceases upon the member's death, unless a survivor has rights to the benefit.

A member is eligible for non-disability retired pay after 20 years of credible service
. You may have been awarded a portion of your husband's military retirement pay in a court order or separation agreement during your military divorce in Virginia, and it's important to understand how those benefits will be calculated.

The military uses 3 basic systems for calculating non-disability retired pay

  • Final basic pay - if your spouse began military service before Sept. 8, 1980, the military retirement pay will be equal to his final base pay multiplied by 2.5%.
  • High 3-year average - if your spouse began military service between Sept. 8, 1980 and Aug. 1, 1986, the military retirement pay will be calculated by multiplying the average of your spouse's highest 3 years of basic pay by 2.5%.
  • REDUX - if your spouse began military service on or after Aug. 1, 1986, your spouse can choose to have his military retirement pay calculated using the REDUX system, which is a slightly more complicated method of totaling military retirement benefits. 

Because of the intricate nature of the military retirement pay system, you'll likely want assistance from an experienced Virginia divorce attorney, who can help you understand all the details you'll need to be aware of during your military divorce in Virginia.

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