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Will the New Military Blended Retirement System Create Challenges for Florida Divorces?

On behalf of Sparkman Law Firm posted in Family Law on Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

On January 1, 2018, a military initiative was passed that has the potential to affect Florida military families everywhere, particularly when it comes to divorce.

The Blended Retirement System, or BRS, affects all servicemembers who joined the military in 2018. Servicemembers who joined on or before December 31, 2017 were automatically kept on the previous plan but have the option to enroll in BRS by December 31, 2018. Here’s what military families need to know about BRS.

Blended Retirement System Defined

The BRS gets its name from blending two primary sources of retirement income — the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and the existing annuity provision for servicemembers who retire after 20 years of service.

Essentially, the annuity formula was reduced by half a percent and anyone enrolled in TSP gets an extra 1% of basic pay added to their account each month.

How BRS Affects Florida Divorces

If military divorces in Florida were challenging before, they’ve become even more so after the introduction of the Blended Retirement System. Essentially, the BRS affects how much of the retired pay a former spouse will receive. However, there are more questions than answers when it comes to the details.

  • When federal law allows Florida courts to divide retirement pay, will Continuation Pay and lump-sum amounts be included? Would a settlement agreement control how these types of pay are divided?
  • Will future opt-in Continuation Pay and lump-sum amounts be considered marital property, thus divisible under a divorce decree?
  • Can a judge require that a military spouse give notice to his or her former spouse that he or she has accepted or will accept Continuation Pay or lump-sum payments?
  • What contingencies may be put in place for the division of Continuation Pay or lump-sum payments?
  • Can a judge require that a military spouse opt in or out of the Blended Retirement System before December 31, 2018?
  • Can a judge require that a military spouse accept or not accept future Continuation Pay or lump-sum payments?

These issues are just a few of the ways that the Blended Retirement System can impact a Florida divorce. How they will be resolved has yet to be discovered and many divorcing families are in an entirely new territory.

Working with An Experienced Family Law Attorney

If you are married to a servicemember or are a servicemember and are considering divorce, it’s even more important that you work with an experienced family lawyer to protect your best interests. Contact Sparkman Law today for a consultation at (813) 374-2000.


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