Have you ever heard of the Frozen Benefit Rule? When Congress passed The National Defense Authorization Act it dramatically altered how military pension division orders are written. Instead of allowing each state to decide how to divide military retirement pay, Congress imposed a single uniform method of pension division on all the states, a fictional scenario in which the military member retires on the day that the judgment of divorce is entered. This new rule up-ends the law regarding military pension division in almost every state.
The new law only applies to those still serving (active-duty, National Guard or Reserves). Going forward, hypothetical retired pay attributable to the rank and years of service of the military member at the time of the divorce is what will be divided. The new law was effective and binding on the states immediately upon enactment, which was January 1, 2017. Although the method of dividing pensions, as well as the date of valuation and classification of marital or community property, have always been a matter of state law, that will change in all divorce cases where one or both spouses are active military.
Wolf & Shore, LLC routinely handles military divorce cases, and has dealt with the division of military pensions frequently. We even offer a military divorce guide, which you can read here. Our office can refer you to pension division attorneys that we work with often, to make certain that your pension is divided properly.
We understand that divorce is never easy, and it may only seem harder when one or both spouses in the military. Assets need to be divided differently, parenting plans may need to be less conventional, and now with the new Frozen Benefit Rule, even pension division will be more challenging. If you or your spouse is in the military, and you are seeking divorce, please contact our office for a confidential consultation. You can reach us here, at (203) 745.3151, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.