If you have served or are currently serving in a branch of the United States armed forces, you worked hard to earn the military pension that will await you when you retire. If you have an impending divorce, you may be worried that half or more of your military pension is in danger of being given to your spouse by a divorce court. Is there any way to avoid this?
How Colorado courts view military pensions
Ever since an important case before the Colorado Supreme Court in 1988, Colorado courts have treated military pensions exactly like any other pension plan. This means that military pensions fall under the category of marital property, and are thus subject to division.
In other words, if your divorce proceeds to litigation, the court will apply Colorado law in order to determine what an equitable distribution of your assets is, including your military pension. This means that the division might not be exactly fifty-fifty. The court will determine the amount that each of you should receive of your pension after taking into consideration a variety of factors, such as your respective earning capacity, health, education and so forth.
Offsetting the value of your pension
You and your spouse may decide to negotiate the terms of your own separation agreement instead of allowing the court to divide your assets for you. In this case, you will have the chance to keep your military pension intact by offsetting its value with other assets that you can offer to your spouse in exchange for foregoing their share of your pension.
You will have to negotiate all aspects of your divorce, such as asset division, debt division, spousal maintenance and so forth. This means that you have ample opportunity to find something that your spouse would accept now instead of demanding a share of your pension years down the line when you retire.
Your military pension was hard-earned, and you depend upon it to make your life comfortable after you retire. Through careful negotiation, you may be able to protect it during the divorce process.