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Explaining the 10/10 Rule in Military Divorce

What is the 10/10 Rule Pertaining to Military Divorces in Colorado?

Any divorce case traditionally involves the dividing of marital property and assets according to state law. In most cases, this includes debt and even retirement pay. However, military divorce cases can somewhat differ in spite of being governed by state laws. There is something known as the 10/10 rule in such divorces.

The 10/10 rule allows former spouses of military members to receive a portion of the ex's military retirement pay. This is paid directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and is court-ordered in military divorce cases. The couple must have been married for at least 10 years, with the military member performing at least 10 years of service. A family law attorney can help when determining what you can receive.

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The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) helps to enforced court orders related to divorce when one of the spouses is a member or former member of the military.

The state has primary jurisdiction, but the USFSPA helps the former spouse to receive their portion that was ordered by the court. This is done directly through an organization known as the DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service). In any case, it is wise to retain a military divorce attorney to assist you through the process to ensure that you know what to expect.

Eligibility Under the 10/10 Rule in Military Divorce

The number 10 in the 10/10 rule is related to the eligibility requirements of spouses who are seeking payment directly from the DFAS.

During a state hearing during a military divorce, if the court awards retired pay to an ex-spouse of a military member, that percentage is considered part of the marital property. The USFSPA will enforce the payments if the following are in place:

  • The spouses were married for at least 10 years

  • During the course of the marriage, the military member spouse performed their duty for at least 10 years, which is credited toward their eventual retirement

How Much Can a Spouse Get Under the 10/10 Rule?

What this means is that the former spouse of the military member will be able to get their payments from the military directly instead of their ex-husband or ex-wife. The amount of money they can receive from the retired pay is limited to finances that were earned during the course of the marriage. Additionally, there is also a limitation of 50 percent of the military member’s disposable retired pay. This excludes the following:

  • Any forfeitures as ordered by a court-martial

  • Any amount of money that was overpaid to the government

  • Pay that is waived so the military member can receive VA disability benefits

  • Survivor Benefit Plan premiums that are already being received by the military member's former spouse

If you are going through a military divorce, you need the help of an experienced family law attorney. Specifically, a military divorce attorney can help you to get the payments you deserve.