Reserve retirement and divorce

Q: I was awarded par­tial retire­ment ben­e­fits in the mar­riage dis­so­lu­tion from my ex spouse after 27 years of mar­riage. He was in the ser­vice the entire length of our mar­riage. He was drafted sev­eral months before we were mar­ried, and served 3 years in the Army. When he ended his active duty tour, he was a mem­ber of the Army Reserves for a few years and then joined the Florida National Guard. He retired in 2012 with 41 years of ser­vice. When my por­tion of the retire­ment ben­e­fit is cal­cu­lated, would the start date of the cal­cu­la­tions begin when he was sworn in after he was drafted, or begin when he joined the National Guard? I believe the 41 years include all his ser­vice time (Army, reserves and National Guard). Thanks for your help with this.
–Gwen, address not provided

A: I can tell you what I think makes sense based on what you’ve writ­ten. How­ever, regard­less of my thoughts, the answer to your ques­tion can be found in your divorce decree.  Defense Finance and Account­ing Ser­vice (DFAS) requires that an award be stated as a fixed dol­lar amount or as a per­cent­age of dis­pos­able retired pay. Since it doesn’t sound as if he had begun to receive retired pay at the time of the divorce, a for­mula may have been used.  Check out page six of the “Guid­ance on Divid­ing Mil­i­tary Retired Pay” for DFAS guid­ance on what the award should have looked like. What does your divorce decree say on the subject?

It’s not clear from your sum­mary, but it appears your ex retired from Guard. If that’s the case, his retire­ment will be based on points he earned dur­ing his active duty, guard, and reserve ser­vice.  In my opin­ion, your por­tion of his retire­ment should be a per­cent­age deter­mined by divid­ing the num­ber of points he earned while you were mar­ried by his total points. How­ever, opin­ions don’t trans­late into dol­lars, check your decree!

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