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Blended Retirement System may complicate military divorce

23829773_S.jpgMilitary personnel in Illinois are likely aware of the Blended Retirement System set to go into effect in January 2018. The system will impact not only military retirement, but many other aspects of military life as well. According to a military family law attorney, the BRS may cause frustration and more work in military divorce cases.

The BRS significantly impacts the way former military spouses will be treated financially. The attorney said the old standard was 50 percent of High-3 base pay, but that is not valid any longer, as it is 40 percent, not 50. He also said former military spouses whose divorces are finalized before 2018 may not have any legal right to the defined contribution Thrift Savings Plan, because it represents a new benefit under the BRS.

Once military members enroll in the BRS, they receive at least 1 percent and up to 4 percent Department of Defense matching contributions into their TSP accounts. People who join the military during the year 2018 are eligible for 1 percent matching from the Department of Defense after serving for 60 days.

Since the defined contribution TSP is a new benefit, military spouses will not have any claim to it if their divorces are finalized before the BRS goes into effect. Moreover, a military spouse will not be notified of an election to join the BRS by the service member. Military spouses may thus lack information that may be critical to the divorce. Military personnel and spouses who have questions about the operation of the BRS in a divorce may want to speak with an attorney. An attorney with experience in military family law may be able to help by examining the facts of the situation and identifying assets and sources of income.

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