Florida military divorces can be extremely complicated for a number of reasons, the most obvious being the division of the military pension.
The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act is a federal law that allows Florida courts to treat military retirement pay according to the laws in Florida. Florida therefore has jurisdiction in determining what portion, if any, of the military pension is a marital asset subject to property distribution.
The military pension is divided using a formula—called a coverture fraction—which establishes the marital portion of the pension and equitably distributes it between the parties in the form of a percentage. It’s extremely important for both the service member and the service member’s spouse that this formula be applied correctly. Likewise, it’s imperative that the language used in any settlement agreement (often called a Marital Settlement Agreement) or Final Judgment (the order that ratifies the divorce) be specifically tailored to meet the detailed requirements of the Department of Defense. If the settlement agreement or order is not done properly, the Department of Defense may not properly distribute the pension.
Military divorces also require the filing of other documents with the Department of Defense to effectuate the terms of an agreement or Final Judgment, such as an order requiring the Department of Defense to make the pension payments directly to the service member’s spouse (when applicable) and the election and designation of beneficiary of the Survivor’s Benefit Plan.
In summary, Florida military divorces require a detailed understanding of applicable federal law and Florida divorce law. Not only is it extremely important for the coverture fraction to be applied correctly to determine the marital portion of the military pension and distribute it accordingly, but the wording of the legal documents is equally important to ensure the Department of Defense adheres to the agreement by the parties or the order of the court.
If you are a service member or the spouse of the service member seeking a divorce, be sure to contact an experienced Florida military divorce attorney to ensure your divorce is done properly and your interests are protected. Please contact the law offices of Mindi Lasley, P.A. to consult with an experienced Tampa military divorce attorney.