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The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Act

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Act

About The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Act

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Act is a federal law that provides benefits to ex-spouses of service members, such as part of a military member’s retirement benefits, medical care, and exchange/commissary benefits.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act provides qualifying spouses with the following protections:

  • Allows for the division of retirement pay between service members and ex-spouses
  • Allows ex-spouses to receive direct payment of military pay from the government
  • Allows ex-spouses to receive health care at military facilities
  • Allows ex-spouses to shop at military exchanges and commissaries
  • Allows victims of spousal or child abuse access to military benefits

The law, however, does not do the following:

  • It does not compel courts to divide military retirement benefits
  • It does not include a formula for dividing payment
  • It does not grant a preset share of military retirement pay
  • It does not limit the percentage of disposable pay available to ex-spouses
  • It does require an overlap of military service and marriage to divide retirement pay

Jurisdiction Under The USFSPA

Civilian courts are forbidden from treating military retirement pay as community property unless the court has jurisdiction over the service member under certain circumstances.

Courts have jurisdiction based on a service member’s:

  • Residence aside from military housing
  • Domicile
  • Consent to the court’s jurisdiction

The division of retirement pay as community property is only possible when the ex-spouse was married to the service member for 10+ years, and the service member completed 10 years of service during the marriage.

Direct Payment Of Retired Pay After A Military Divorce

Some spouses can receive payment directly from the government if a divorce order or settlement has been ratified or approved by the court. However, direct pay must be used or provided under certain circumstances—pay can be directly disbursed if it is for child support, alimony, or the division of retired pay as property.

Payment will continue until any of the following events occur:

  • The court’s terms are satisfied
  • The retired service member dies
  • The ex-spouse dies

How To Request Direct Pay For Military Divorce

If you qualify for direct payment from military pay centers for your ex-spouse’s retirement income, here’s how you file a request. First, you need to fill out DD Form 2293, or the “Application for Former Spouse Payments from Retired Pay.”

You’ll also need:

  • A copy of the court order
  • Documents calling for the payment of child support/alimony/property division

Your accompanying documents must have been certified by a court officer or judge within the last 90 days. You can send your application to the relevant office by regular or certified mail, email, or fax. Within 30 days of receipt, the Defense Finance & Accounting Service should notify your ex-spouse, consider any response received, or reject your request if it doesn’t meet the standards for direct pay.

The DFAS may also ignore the court order if it has been demonstrated as defective, modified, set aside, or another order has superseded it. You should receive notification of your payment, or an explanation of why the direct payment request was rejected.

The USFSPA & Survivor Benefit Plan Designation


The USFSPA allows ex-spouses to retain their designation under the Survivor Benefit Plan after divorce, as long as they meet certain criteria. For one, the designation must either be voluntary or ordered by the court. In cases where the military divorce occurred after retirement, plan coverage will be equal for both spouses. If military divorce occurred before retirement, then the court order will determine coverage.

USFSPA - Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act

The USFSPA allows ex-spouses to retain their designation under the Survivor Benefit Plan after divorce, as long as they meet certain criteria. For one, the designation must either be voluntary or ordered by the court. In cases where the military divorce occurred after retirement, plan coverage will be equal for both spouses. If military divorce occurred before retirement, then the court order will determine coverage.

If a civilian beneficiary remarries before age 55, they lose plan eligibility for as long as the new marriage lasts. If the new marriage ends, their coverage is reinstated.

Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation With A Military Divorce Lawyer

We offer a free case evaluation for our prospective clients and have offices conveniently located throughout San Diego County and for Northern California residents from our Contra Costa County office in Walnut Creek, CA. If you have any questions about our representation or your federal civil service or military divorce options, then contact Paul J. Ryan today.

To Learn More About Our Military Divorce & Federal Civil Service Divorce Services CALL:

(925) 542-2543 or (858) 222-6600

I’ve been working with Paul Ryan on a difficult case for over a year and he has been a God-send. He is smart, personable, very down to earth and a fighter. I had two terrible experiences previously with different SD firms, and hiring Paul has been a welcome breath of fresh air. I would highly recommend Paul, especially for active duty military and veterans.

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Regina Villalobos
Regina Villalobos
15:38 12 Sep 22
Called for a consultation in a family law case and the lawyer was amazingly helpful a en gave me some input and guide... ace despite me not being able to afford a retainer for him at the moment. Offered me useful advice that has helped me move forward on my case and I hope to soon be able to retain him for his more
Jack Herculean
Jack Herculean
19:43 05 Sep 22
Is it typical to take 15 months to divorce without even having been to trial?
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Khristina Lucas
10:59 31 Jul 22
Attorney Paul Ryan is great! Hard working, honest and will fight for you. His paralegal Shirlene is just as great and... responds toEmails and phone calls immediately. Overall, a diligent office to have on your side!read more
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Vinny Record
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Mike Green
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Sean Vanhorn
03:19 16 Mar 22
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Nadine Martinez
01:34 30 Jun 21
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Hung Tran
00:11 28 Jun 21
had consulted with Mr. Ryan He was responsive and answered my questions , was always pleasant and professional and... clearly explained my options objectively. He thoroughly reviewed and provided a realistic strategy, I was satisfied. I'd absolutely recommend mr Ryan .read more
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Janet H
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Diane Kocheran
14:57 08 Sep 20
Paul Ryan helped me to keep my Alimony after my ex husband tried to end it. Paul, along with his incredible office... staff was very honest with me, always quick to answer all my questions, quick to call me back and even gave me discounts when paying my bill on time. This law firm is incredible and I would recommend them highly. I live in Las Vegas and we did everything over the phone. The hearing was in San Diego.They really care about their clients and this was a difficult case. Thank you Paul and your entire office staff. You all are truly one of the greats and I appreciate all your hard work on my case. Thank more
19:13 26 Jul 20
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Shawn Velasquez
Shawn Velasquez
00:13 10 Jun 20
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Estrellita McIlrath
Estrellita McIlrath
01:58 09 May 20
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Patty OConnor
Patty OConnor
00:26 29 Feb 20
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Scott Goodman
Scott Goodman
04:49 22 Nov 19
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