The military's survivor benefit plan and divorce

Military benefits can be tough to understand during the course of a marriage; however, a military divorce can make those deciphering these benefits even more complicated. Since the fair division of military benefits is often a priority for Southern California military couples, it's helpful to learn about these benefits in the context of the property division phase of divorce.

One key benefit for military spouses is the survivor benefit plan. The military's survivor benefit plan, or SBP, functions as an insurance for the death of a retired military member. When a retired member of the service passes away, his or her spouse may be left without significant income. The survivor benefits act as a sort of annuity that gives the surviving spouse a monthly payment to offset the loss of income.

While the SBP is extremely beneficial to many military spouses, the plan's status after divorce is often influenced by many different factors. Typically, SBP coverage for a spouse ends with a divorce, since that person's status as a military spouse also ends with the divorce. However, some divorce decrees stipulate that SBP coverage continue for the military spouse. In such instances, a written request for former spouse coverage, as well as a copy of the divorce decree, must be sent to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. A military member can also voluntarily choose former spouse coverage for their ex, as long as the request is made within one year of the divorce.

Retired military personnel often have many questions about military benefits and their status during and after divorce. A Newport Beach family lawyer can be a valuable resource for service members who are going through a family transition and need to know more about the proper division of military benefits.