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What does the 10/10 rule mean for divorcing military members?

| Mar 29, 2021 | Military Divorce

Military divorces can be more complicated them civilian divorces. Although the same California laws regarding custody and property division apply to both civilians and military servicemembers, military divorces often have additional considerations and requirements.

For example, if you have children that you share with your spouse, you will need to file paperwork during your divorce to update family plan records in case you are injured during your service. Additionally, the possibility exists for your spouse to make a claim to some of your military benefits.

Many servicemembers and their spouses don’t understand the 10/10 rule for military pensions. Their misunderstanding of what the rule means for their divorce could lead to bad decisions.

Does the 10/10 rule mean you have to stay married for a decade?

Many people interpret the 10/10 rule to mean that a military marriage must last at least 10 years and the military service member must have 10 years of active service during the marriage for their spouse to claim a portion of their pension. However, that is not what the rule says.

The 10/10 rule does not affect how the courts divide pension benefits but rather who distributes those benefits. The length of the marriage may impact property division under California state law, but a shorter marriage will not necessarily prevent someone from a partial claim to pension benefits.

What the rule states is that if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and the servicemember had 10 years of active duty during the marriage, then their spouse can potentially receive their share of the pension directly from the government. If the marriage does not meet those qualifications, then the spouse receiving the benefits will typically have to arrange for disbursement to their non-military ex.

Navigating a complicated military divorce often requires legal assistance so that you don’t fall victim to the common myths and misunderstandings about the process. A family law attorney with experience in military divorces can help.