Publication Date



This report provides a general discussion of legislative provisions and proposals relating to the military benefits for former spouses. It is not designed to answer detailed questions about specific issues arising in individual cases. Thus, it does not deal with case law nor does it apply legal or judicial interpretations of enacted statutes to specific situations.

Questions that this report seeks to answer include the following:

  • What benefits can former spouses of members or retirees of the uniformed services receive under law?
  • What role do the services play in facilitating delivery of those benefits? What practical problems arise in the implementation of and service involvement in claims on those benefits?
  • How does the current system for a divorce-related division of military retired pay work?

These frequently asked questions reflect confusion and controversy over social policy and economic equity issues. The administrative and legal implementation has proven complex, due to the large number of couples affected and the variety of circumstances surrounding their military service and divorce.


Suggested Citation
Kamarck, K. N. (2016). Military benefits for former spouses: Legislation and policy issues (CRS Report RL31663). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

A more recent version of this report can be found here: