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What is the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act?

In 1981, the United States passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, Title 10, United States Code, Section 1408, also known as the USFSPA, to award former spouses of military members retirement pay in the event of a divorce. While the act does not require states to divide retirement earnings as community property or a marital asset, it requires state courts to divide the property accordingly. This amount may run as high as 50 percent of the military member's disposable income.

In addition, the USFSPA also addresses the enforcement of child support and alimony for the ex-spouse. To apply for direct payments, an ex-spouse must complete and submit the Former Spouses Payments from Retirement Pay form DD Form 2293 as well as current court ordered award documents, certified by the clerk of court. If eligible, the military spouse must begin making payments within 90 days of the filing. If the military member wishes to appeal the claim, he or she must do so within 30 days of receiving the initial claim.

Under Title 42 of the United States Code Section 659, an ex-spouse may also file an income withholding order for alimony, child support, and alimony and child support arrears orders. If paying both 42 U.S.C. and USFSPA, a spouse may receive up to 65 percent of the military member's disposable income.

Understanding the intricacies and properly filing the necessary paperwork for the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act during a military divorce may feel overwhelming. To make certain everything is properly submitted, it may be wise to seek assistance from an attorney familiar with military family divorces.

Source:, " Frequently Asked Questions", Accessed July 13, 2015.