Don’t Miss these assets in Military Divorce Cases

Military woman            The accrued leave of a service member is a valuable part of the marital property that should be taken into consideration when dividing marital property and not overlooked.  Each active duty military member accrues thirty (30) days of paid leave per year.  This 30 days accrues regardless of the military members rank.  This leave should be valued at the pay rate of the member.  If there is thirty (30) days accrued leave then there is an additional month’s pay in the marital estate.  If there is sixty (60) days accrued leave then there is an additional two month’s pay in the marital estate, etc.  The accrued leave can be found on the Service member’s Leave and Earning Statement (LES) which is what Defense Finance and Accounting Systems (DFAS) calls the member’s pay check stub.  There is a box under the Entitlement, Deductions and Allotments section entitled “Leave” which indicates the number of days the military member has accrued.   There is case law in Illinois stating that sick leave and vacation days are marital property.  The attorney for the service member will argue that the member’s spouse cannot obtain the accrued leave, however, the member’s spouse can be compensated for the value of the asset. 

            The military retirement pay of a service member who retires from the military after serving the required time to be entitled to retirement pay, is valuable to the member’s former spouse, even if the marriage was just a few years.  For example:  If the retirement pay is $2,000 for the retired member after twenty (20) years of service and the former spouse was married to the member for two (2) of those years, the former spouse would be entitled to 2/20 (one-tenth) of the $2000, or $200 per month.  If the former spouse is 40 when the member retires and she lives another 40 years that amounts to $96,000 not taking into account the cost of living adjustments that would come along with that payment. 

            Watch for reenlistment bonuses.  If the service member is up for reenlistment during the pendency of the divorce, what the LES very closely for this information and be sure to ask.  Reenlistment bonuses can potentially be $75,000 and if the reenlistment takes place while the service member is in a combat zone, the bonus could be free of federal and state taxes.

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