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What is the Ten-Year Rule?

The Ten-Year Rule functions under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA). It affects the way that the former spouse obtains his or her share of retirement benefits from a military member. Under the Ten-Year Rule, there are two criteria that must be met. The first is that the couple must be married for a minimum of ten years in order for the ex-spouse to receive retirement benefits. The other component is that the military spouse must have served for a minimum of ten years during the time of the marriage. After both of these elements have been met, the defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) can step in and pay a former spouse a share of the retirement pay. If these requirements are not made, the non-military member spouse can still be entitled to benefits, the payments will have to come from the military member spouse.


The Ten-Year Rule is a very misunderstood concept by those experiencing a military divorce. The divorce does not have to last for ten years to entitle the non-service member to a portion of benefits. It refers, rather, to the method that the spouse receives the share of benefits. If the Ten-Year Rule is not met, money will have to directly distribute the non-military member's share from the military member's retirement pay. This rule affects only the way in which the money is distributed.

The division of military retirement pay is easily accomplished through the DFAS. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act allows states to separate military retirement funds at the point of a divorce, but this is not required. Regardless of the length of marriage, retirement funds can be divided. The Ten-Year Rule (or 10 / 10 rule) makes the situation easier. A military divorce lawyer can help you better understand how your situation fits into the Ten-Year Rule. Contact my office to find out how I can help.

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Charles E. Willmott, P.A. - Jacksonville Military Divorce Lawyer
Located at 425 N. Liberty Street, Willmott Law Building, Willmott Law Building, FL 32202.
Phone: (904) 849-5183.
Local: (904) 358-7818.
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