The straightforward meaning of the 10/10 rule is that the parties must have been married for 10 years, and those 10 years must overlap the military service by those same 10 years.
Simply put, say we have clients who had an 11-year marriage, but the spouse has only served in the military for nine years of the marriage, then the 10-year rule would not apply. If a spouse does fall under the 10/10 rule, then they will be eligible to receive direct payments from DFAS for the military pension of their spouse. This is a huge benefit to the spouse that is eligible for these payments.
We had a case where the parties were divorcing shortly after the retirement of the service member. This was a long-term marriage in California of 12 years and the service member had been in the military for the full 20 years, which made him eligible for retirement. He had already commenced his retirement and had started his second career. So as he was already receiving those benefits, his spouse was able to receive her community portion of the retirement directly from DFAS, and it saved them the money that would have been spent on a QDRO to receive retirement payments. Additionally, since the payment was direct to the spouse, she was able to receive that as income and we were able to negotiate a reasonable settlement in regards to spousal support. These payments made to the wife from the military retirement were able to offset payments made to the husband in these divorce negotiations.
When Marriage Length Increases So Do Rights
It is important to note that as the length of marriage increases, then the rights the former spouse receives increases as well. The rules that determine ongoing medical insurance and ongoing military benefits are the 20/20/20 rule and the 20/20/15 rule. Understanding the various rules in regards to military divorces can be very confusing. Therefore, it is important that when interviewing your attorney for your military divorce, you find one that knows the difference and understands what that means for you and for your divorce rights.
Over the years of working with military families, I have encountered numerous situations where my opposing counsel just was not amiliar with the rights and regulations of military families, and it has made the divorce process just much more difficult than it should have been.
If you have any questions, send us over an email, give us a call, make sure you are informed about these various time rules.