Understanding the 10 Year Rule for Military Divorces in Washington

When Does the 10 Year Rule Apply in Military Divorces

This rule comes into pay when dealing with your military retirement pension.   Specifically, it concerns issues regarding splitting up your pension with your soon-to-be-ex-wife.  The rule is also known as the 10/10 rule.  If you do not have a military pension subject to the divorce, it does not come into play.

What Does the 10/10 Rule Do?

The 10/10 Rule permits your wife or spouse to receive your pension directly from DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service).  This means that instead of cutting your ex-wife a check each month, she receives her share of your military retirement directly from them.  It has no affect on whether your wife can get a share of your retirement pay, just who pays her.

Understanding How the 10 Year Rule for Military Divorces in Washington Will Work in Your Divorce

In order for your wife to qualify, your wife must be married to you for at least 10 years with a minimum of 10 of those years occurring during your career.  Please note that if you entered the service and then left and then joined later, your wife may not qualify because only years that can be credited to your retirement count.  There may be additional conditions for why your wife may not qualify. 

For example, Rex joined the Marine Core in 1986.   He got married in 1999.  He left the service in 2000 going directly to IRR.  He then rejoined the military for the Iraqi war in 2005.  He served until his retirement in 2011.  He served twenty years.  He was married to his wife Jennifer for 12 of those years.  However, since Rex only served the core for seven years of the 12 years he was married to Jennifer, she does not qualify for the 10 year rule.

In addition to King County, we represent service members in Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap County.  If you are in the service and you have questions regarding your military retirement and how the rules could affect pay and asset issues for your divorce, contact our office at 206-633-2015 to schedule a consultation with a Seattle based family law attorney.