What’s the USFSPA (Uniformed Services Former Spouse’s Protection Act)?

Posted by admin on April 27th, 2006

The USFSPA is a law that was passed by Congress in 1982. What it is for in essence is to provide some financial protection to some former spouses of service personnel. This law allows the states to divide the disposable retired pay as part of the property during a divorce. It also provides in some cases the direct payment of child support arrears, alimony and child support payments.  The total amount of the division cannot be more than 50 percent.

The problem when trying to implement this law is that many courts and attorneys do not understand the USFSPA law and how to use it in a divorce case.

For child support or alimony, the spouse that wishes to use the USFSPA law must apply for payment under the law and submit a certified copy of the court order stating the child support or alimony. The application form needed is DD Form 2293 and must be certified within 90 after the court order. If alimony is in arrears, this cannot be collected under USFSPA, but arrears in child support can. This information and form must be sent either by regular US mail, fax, or by a commercial mail service and sent to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Cleveland Center, Code L, P.O. Box 998002, Cleveland, OH 44199-8002.

What happens after the form is received is that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will notify the spouse that they have received this form and if they do not respond with an amended order within 30 days then the office may agree and payment of the retired pay can be given to the person that filed the form.

Under the USFSPA, other additions can be added besides the award of disposable military retired pay such as a garnishment for division of property that is not part of this pay. It must be in addition to any child support, alimony, or award of military retired pay as property.

The military retired pay under USFSPA is not used for any type of garnishment for commercial debts and is the only medium that is available to recuperate a portion of military retired pay as a division of property for a former spouse.

If you are in doubt if you qualify, you should discuss the USFSPA with an attorney that understands federal and state laws concerning military divorces. The law was put in effect to ensure that former spouses of military personnel get the benefits that they are entitled to, but you must understand and to file for the benefits and how soon you should apply. If these are not done by the book, you could miss some major benefits for you and your children.

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