This is Eric Amat Y Leon. I am an attorney with Burnham Law. We are here today to discuss military issues in Colorado, specifically the division of military retired pay.
When a service member has 20 years or more of service, they will receive a lifetime annuity for their service, and this may well be one of the largest assets in a marriage to divide. For many service members that I have met with and consulted with, there are some questions about how this should be divided. I think many feel like they were the ones on the battlefield. They were the ones getting shot at. It doesn’t really seem fair that now that they’re getting divorced – and it may not be a divorce they even wanted – but they have to now share a piece of this asset.
But Colorado law recognizes this as an asset of the marriage. There is an interplay between Colorado law and federal law when it comes to calculating this division. There are not a lot of attorneys out there who are very knowledgeable and experienced in this area of law.
There are some popular misconceptions. One of the most popular ones is what’s known as a “10/10” rule. A lot of people will say that unless you’ve been married for 10 years while you’ve been in the service, there isn’t an asset to divide, but that is certainly not the case. It’s more of a question of who is going to be making the payment to the former spouse, not whether something is going to be divided or not.
There are many significant issues to consider carefully, including whether there is going to be an SBP or not; how that cost is going to be allocated; tax implications if the payments are not coming from the FAS; whether or not there is going to be COLAs as part of the award.
Really, the best advice one can give is to sit down with an experienced family law attorney who really knows their stuff in military divorces. And for more information, go to BurnhamLaw.com.