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What exactly is the 10/10 rule?

If you are in the military and are contemplating a divorce, you may have heard of the 10/10 rule. There are many misconceptions about this rule. Some people believe that it entitles spouses to 50 percent of a military member's pay. Others think that it gives the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) the right to seize spousal support from a military member. Both of these are falsehoods. Here, we will discuss the 10/10 rule and how it applies to military divorces. 

Understanding the 10/10 rule

In some divorces, one spouse must pay the other alimony. When one half of the couple is in the military, this becomes very difficult logistically. To make it simpler for military spouses to collect alimony, Congress created the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), or the 10/10 rule, in 1982.

Under this rule, spouses can collect their alimony payments directly from the DFAS instead of having to obtain it from their military ex, who may is deployed or otherwise preoccupied. Because of the 10/10 rule, divorced military personnel do not have to focus on sending spousal support payments to their ex: The DFAS can do it instead.

You and your former partner must meet two criteria to qualify:

  • The servicemember and spouse must have been married to each other for at least 10 years
  • The servicemember must have performed at least 10 years of service creditable toward retirement eligibility

Military divorce can still be complicated

It is often difficult for service members, particularly those who are deployed, to handle legal matters back at home. A divorce is no exception. The 10/10 rule simplifies alimony a bit, but military divorce remains legally and emotionally complex. Military personnel often choose to work with outside help to navigate this complex territory.

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