Quote Originally Posted by USN - Retired View Post
There should definitely be some limits. Some direction and guidance would be good so that the pay is divided in a consistent manner in a divorce. Allowing a state court to give a former military spouse a lifetime cut of the military retirement pay after a marriage of less than ten years is ridiculous.

I would be VERY happy if USFSPA would be modified to include a table of "equivalent value" based on a member's years and rank at the time of divorce to enable a lump sum payment (mainly for marriages less than 20 years). I know that you have supported that idea in previous posts, but it is a good idea and it is worth repeating. The involuntary separation pay tables for military service members who are involuntarily separated from active duty would be a good place to start for a USFSPA table of "equivalent value" (see post #105 for more details). The USFSPA modification could also include a statement that, for marriages that do not meet the USFSPA 20/20/20 rule, the family court judge should follow the USFSPA table of "equivalent value" except in extreme cases.
Yes, I think the equivalent value would be an excellent solution...

Jefferson Davis and George Wallace would definitely agree with you on that point.
They would also agree with you that Tuesday follows Monday. I believe Hitler would also agree with you there.

Here's my thought on States' rights: States' rights doesn't mean that we should sit by and do nothing when the states are acting in an egregious manner.
If 50 out of 50 states are doing things in a similar manner...it would seem difficult to call that egregious. Although, yeah at one point all the states allowed slavery or whatever...dividing compensation that was earned during a marriage as marital property is not in the same ballpark.

Here are some questions for discussion:

Why does USFSPA contain the 10/10 rule? Did the federal government (congress) believe that military retirement pay should NOT be divided when the 10/10 rule was not met? Did the federal government (congress) decide that it would not prohibit a state from dividing a military retirement pay for a marriage of less than ten years, but it also would not facilitate the division of that retirement pay? Was the intent of the USFSPA 10/10 rule to discourage the division of military retirement pay for short term marriages? Was the USFSPA 10/10 rule an attempt by congress to mirror Social Security's 10 year rule regarding social security payments to divorced spouses.

What would happen if the USFSPA 10/10 rule were eliminated? Currently, the pay checks of over 100,000 retired military personnel are being divided by USFSPA enabled divorce court decrees. Only those marriages that meet the USFSPA 10/10 rule (10 years of marriage as the spouse of an active duty person) are being divided by DFAS. More than 100,000 is a lot of divorced couples and a lot of paperwork for DFAS. DFAS personnel have to review the divorce court documents for each of those former couples, over 100,000 divorces, and also set up an account for each of the former spouses. New divorce packets are flowing into DFAS daily and have to be reviewed and entered into the system. Former spouses have to be dropped out of the system when they die. DFAS needs many personnel to process all that paperwork. If the USFSPA 10/10 rule were eliminated, how many divorce packets will DFAS have to process? 200,000? 300,000? How many extra personnel will DFAS need to process that extra paperwork?

Currently, it is possible that many former military spouses don't even bother to ask for a part of the military retirement pay if the marriage was less than 10 years. The former military spouse might just ask for a larger share of the joint bank accounts instead. If the USFSPA 10/10 rule were eliminated, would a larger number of military spouses in short term marriages (i.e. less than 10 years) ask for a share of the military retirement pay knowing that they would be able to get it direct from DFAS? If they do, then can DFAS handle all that paperwork?
I don't know why, specifically, the 10/10 rule was put in place.

If I had to speculate, I would say, yes there is considerable work involved in DFAS doing all this...so, congress felt that work was only justified in protecting a signficant sized asset...and that a less than 10 year marriage would not be considered significant enough to justify the additional cost to the govt in protecting that interest. Like here in California, you're only supposed to call the cops if a traffic accident has an injury, or property damage estimated to be over $750. If it's less than that, the amounts do not justify the govt. protection of the interests involved...you trade names and insurance and go on your way. So, if a spouse is awarded 2.5% after 1 year of marriage, that isn't enough of a financial interest to justify federal govt oversight.

If I were correct in that speculation, one might think it would have made more sense for DFAS to only enforce awards over a certain percentage or dollar amount, rather than a certain timeframe. So, there is a good chance I'm way off on that speculation.