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How is a military pension treated in divorce?

Servicemen and women in Massachusetts and elsewhere may not feel they are adequately compensated for the jobs they do in the moment, but the retirement benefits offered to military members can make pledging so many years of service worthwhile. However, those who get divorced may have to share their retirement packages with their former spouses. When working through a divorce, it is reasonable for each spouse to want his or her fair share of highly valued assets — a military pension, in particular, being one of them.

Due to the Former Spouses Protection Act, spouses of military members are entitled to portions of military pensions. In Massachusetts, a pension is subject to equal division. This remains true regardless of whether the non-military spouse gets remarried.

There are those questioning whether this is fair to those serving in the Armed Forces. Many would even like laws changed in order to prevent this from happening. The truth is, retirement accounts of those in civilian marriages are subject to division in divorce, so this happening to military pensions is not necessarily out of place. However, as the majority of military families do not accumulate other significant assets, it is completely understandable as to why dividing pensions is so concerning.

Whether the splitting of a pension plan in divorce seems fair or not, each spouse should be able to walk away from the marriage with what is deemed an equal share of accumulated assets. Everything is up for negotiation, though. As long as each spouse walks away with what is considered a fair settlement in the eyes of the Massachusetts court system, how a pension is ultimately divided may be different from couple to couple. Legal assistance is available to help servicemen and women, and their soon-to-be ex spouses, come to the best possible terms — with which both parties can walk away feeling satisfied.

Source:, “I-Team: Military pension treated as community property in divorce“, Glen Meek, May 11, 2015


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