Important aspects of the military pension include the amount awarded, survivor benefits, and Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). An order dividing this asset should also include language to protect the former spouse from actions by the military member to defeat their interest in the pension. Once an award of the pension has been made, it will be necessary to submit a Military Qualifying Court Order and other military forms to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in order to implement the division. Our office is typically hired by other attorneys to prepare these documents for their clients, or consult with them regarding language that should be included in the Settlement contracts to protect both parties. The military will say that such an Order is not required, but that they will reject any such request if certain information is not provided in a certain way.
It is also important to note that there are significant consequences to the survivor benefit in these military cases if the former spouse and the military member neglect to make their “deemed election” to secure the survivor benefit in a timely manner. If the former spouse or military member do not make this “election” within one year of the Final Judgment, the benefit is lost and the former spouse will no longer be entitled to an interest in the pension once the member dies. If you were named as the survivor for purposes of the survivor benefit while you were married, it is not enough for the military member to “leave it alone.” A former spouse should not assume they are still the named beneficiary. The military will make the change on its own if the correct paperwork is not received.