MILITARY SURVIVOR BENEFIT PLAN: ENSURE IT SURVIVES DIVORCE Veterans Days, we honor all of the people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. For his or her years of service, and depending upon individual election, a veteran may receive a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). Traditionally, this benefit allows the surviving spouse of the veteran to keep receiving a monthly benefit payment after the veteran dies.

Divorcing veterans (and their spouses) frequently ask: What happens to the SBP upon divorce? Can the veteran keep the SBP for an ex-spouse?

It is critical to know that, by law, a spouse’s SBP coverage terminates on the date of divorce. However, within 1 year of a divorce decree, one can elect to provide coverage to a former spouse. It is not enough for there to be a provision in a court order that awards the former spouse the SBP coverage. The military member must make the election by contacting the Defense Finance and Account Service. Alternatively, the ex-spouse can make the request within the 1-year period. Without express and separate elections, the SBP to the ex-spouse will be not take effect.

The SBP is a complicated program and divorce, along with remarriage and death, present many different scenarios and challenges that are best addressed with legal counsel well-versed in military benefits.

Kimberly and Janice are recognized as leading experts in military benefits, as they relate to family law in the Chicago legal community. Please contact us for a consultation if you have further inquiries.

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