If you divorce in Florida, you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your divorce, such as property division, spousal support and child custody, or you can let the judge decide these issues for you. If you and your spouse both receive military retirement benefits, the judge will likely consider these benefits when establishing your divorce decree. However, receiving a military pension is not a guarantee that you will – or will not – receive alimony.
Alimony in Florida
Florida law allows judges to award several types of alimony, depending on your circumstances. Temporary alimony may be appropriate to address alimony needs before your divorce is final. Judges may award permanent monthly alimony payments for spouses in long-term marriages or order one lump-sum payment instead. If you or your spouse needs job training to improve your employability, the judge might award rehabilitative alimony. Transitional alimony may be awarded to help one spouse make the transition from married to single life, providing moving costs or paying for the setup of a new household. Durational alimony is awarded as a monthly payment but only for a set period of time.
In Florida, alimony awards are not directly tied to whether you receive a portion of your military spouse’s retirement pay. Unlike child support, Florida does not use a formula for calculating alimony or have rules under which certain facts trigger alimony awards. Instead, Florida judges look at many factors related to you and your spouse, including the duration of your marriage, your ages and emotional and physical condition, standard of living established during your marriage, your financial resources, and the contributions you and your spouse made to the marriage.
In addition to questions of alimony, Florida courts also address property division - how your marital assets will be distributed - as part of your divorce decree. Thus, even if your judge decides alimony is not appropriate, your spouse could take a portion of your retirement pay as part of the property division. Furthermore, the judge’s decision about your assets may affect whether or not the court will award alimony, in what amount and for how long. For example, if the judge can make everything fair by dividing property in a certain way, he might not award alimony at all. Florida courts divide marital property equitably, which means the judge creates a fair split, though not necessarily an equal one. As with alimony decisions, courts consider many factors before making a property decision, including your debts, nature of the property you own, duration of your marriage and your economic circumstances. If your spouse retired at a much lower level than you did and hence receives lower retirement pay, the court could divide your military pension, giving her a portion of it. However, property splits are heavily based on the facts and circumstances of each case.
Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), a federal law, permits pensions to be divided as property by state courts and provides a mechanism for the enforcement of such awards. For example, if you and your spouse were married at least 10 years, either or both of you served in the military for at least 10 of those same years, and a judge awards you a share of your spouse’s military retirement pay, USFSPA allows you to receive payments directly from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.