Will My Ex Have Rights to My Government Benefits?

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When a military veteran enters retirement, his or her retirement accounts and benefits may face divisions for any ex-spouses attached to the situation. It is important to understand how this affects the former military service member and how much he or she will need to give to the other person as marital property.

Individuals that work with the government branches may see ex-spouses receive up to half of retirement and other program benefits once the divorce completes. However, there are three specific rules that require satisfaction before the ex-spouse may receive these benefits or amounts. He or she must have been part of the legal marriage for no less than nine months. This person did not remarry anyone before age 55 and was part of the relationship for less than 30 years but over nine months. And the last requirement is that the government worker did perform services in a nonmilitary fashion for up to eighteen months in a civilian manner.

Division of Benefits

When all three factors exist, the ex-spouse may receive retirement benefits from the government or military worker. The affecting year in these matters is 1985. Any marriage on or after this year will abide by the government protocols in divisions of benefits to the ex-spouse that meets other requirements. Survivor annuities are transferable to an eligible ex-spouse when he or she was part of the documentation at the time the paperwork needed filing. However, if no person listed exists, these benefits may not become reduced through this manner. It is important to hire a lawyer to determine if any other specifics may permit the former government or military worker a way out of dividing his or her assets with an ex-spouse.

Military and Government Divorces

When a worker for the government or military enters retirement age, he or she may need to divide payments from a retirement account or pension with an ex-spouse that has not entered into a new marriage. Typically, the former spouse must have been in the relationship for no less than ten years. However, depending on regulations and law changes, the ex-spouse could become eligible based on different factors. However, in the year 2017, the former spouse must meet all requirements set forth after 1985 as stated by the OPM departments and offices. If the former government worker receives disability or other payments from another source, these may not have an involvement in marital assets.

Some retired workers may offset payment through another account or income type. By increasing these payments to the maximum, the person that worked for the government may pay less to the former spouse. Additionally, if the divorced wife or husband remarries before reaching age 55, the necessary payments may cease or stop any future allocation. It is important for the government worker to understand all details that may affect him or her after reaching retirement and having had a divorce in the past. If no one was originally named for any benefits, it is possible that no income will divide the benefits with a divorced spouse. It is important to consult a lawyer about this before proceeding.

Blocking Division of Assets

One of the ways to block an ex-spouse from acquiring benefits from a former employee of the government is to have an account or source of income that is not part of marital property. The ex-spouse must have no access to the account or plan. Usually healthcare benefits terminate the moment a divorce completes. Unfortunately, the employee does not see this occur with his or her retirement package. However, changes in the Administration could provide a reduction of what must transfer to the former spouse. Blocking the division of assets is possible, but many find these actions difficult to accomplish.
Some employees are able to block the access when no one’s name is part of the documentation for retirement. Some states hold true to these actions. However, with a court order, the ex-spouse may still acquire a portion of these funds. The government does not automatically ensure the former spouse receives the money. The divorce agreement in the courts usually finalizes these details.

Legal Support in Divided Government Benefits

When affected by government retirement benefits in a divorce, the retiree may need to hire a lawyer. To block the division or reduce the amount, the former employee may need legal help. Going to the courts for action could provide the means to do so and increase the quality of life for the individual.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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