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Understanding Military Benefits in Ohio Divorce Cases

Divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process, and when one or both spouses are members of the military, the situation can become even more intricate. In Ohio, understanding how military benefits are treated in divorce cases is crucial for ensuring a fair and equitable settlement. This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of how military benefits are handled in Ohio divorces, including the division of military pensions, healthcare benefits, and other considerations.

Division of Military Pensions

One of the most significant assets in a military divorce is the military pension. Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), state courts are allowed to treat military retirement pay as divisible property. In Ohio, military pensions are subject to equitable distribution, which means they are divided in a manner deemed fair by the court, though not necessarily equally.

Key Points to Consider:

  1. 10/10 Rule: To facilitate direct payment of a portion of the military pension to the ex-spouse, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years during which the military member performed at least 10 years of creditable service. This rule does not impact the right to a share of the pension but only the method of payment.

  2. Marital Portion: Only the portion of the pension earned during the marriage is subject to division. For instance, if the service member had 20 years of service but was married for only 10 of those years, only half of the pension is considered marital property.

  3. Court Orders: The division of military pensions requires a court order, often included in the final divorce decree or through a separate Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

Healthcare Benefits

Healthcare benefits are another critical aspect to consider in a military divorce. Former spouses may be eligible for continued healthcare coverage under certain conditions.

Key Points to Consider:

  1. 20/20/20 Rule: A former spouse is eligible for full TRICARE benefits if the marriage lasted at least 20 years, the service member had at least 20 years of service, and there was at least a 20-year overlap between the marriage and the service.

  2. 20/20/15 Rule: If the marriage lasted 20 years, the service member had at least 20 years of service, and there was at least a 15-year overlap, the former spouse is eligible for one year of TRICARE benefits post-divorce.

  3. Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP): If the former spouse does not qualify under the above rules, they may purchase coverage similar to TRICARE for up to 36 months through CHCBP.

Other Considerations

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) provides ongoing income to a designated beneficiary upon the death of the service member. In a divorce, the court may award SBP coverage to the former spouse. This must be clearly specified in the divorce decree and requires timely action to ensure the former spouse is designated as the beneficiary.

VA Disability Benefits

Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits are typically not divisible as marital property. However, these benefits can impact the overall division of assets. Courts in Ohio may consider the income from VA disability benefits when dete

rmining alimony and child support.

Child and Spousal Support

Military members may be required to pay child and spousal support, similar to civilian cases. However, military regulations stipulate that a portion of the service member’s pay can be garnished to fulfill these obligations if necessary.

Key Points to Consider:

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH): BAH is considered when calculating support payments, as it contributes to the overall income of the service member.

Enforcement: The military has strict enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with support orders, including potential disciplinary actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).


Navigating a military divorce in Ohio requires careful consideration of unique factors such as the division of military pensions, healthcare benefits, and support obligations. Understanding these aspects can help both parties achieve a fair and equitable resolution. If you are involved in a military divorce, it is advisable to seek legal counsel with experience in military family law to ensure your rights and interests are adequately protected.

For more personalized advice and assistance, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. We are here to help you through this challenging time with expertise and compassion.


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