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Ask Lawrence D. Gorin Your Own Question
Lawrence D. Gorin
Lawrence D. Gorin, Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 1544
Experience:  Military & Family Law. 30+ years experience. USFSPA pension division expertise.
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My fiancé is set to retire from the Air Force at the end of

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My fiancé is set to retire from the Air Force at the end of this year. His first wife, according to their divorce decree is entitled to his survivor benefits, although the decree did not stipulate who was to pay the $250 a month premium. Am I entitled to any survivor benefit at all after we marry or goes it all go to her in the event if his passing?
If the divorce decree ordered the servicemember to maintain SBP coverage, with former spouse being designated as his beneficiary for a Former Spouse SBP Annuity, and the former spouse survives the death of the servicemember/retiree, the former spouse will receive the entire former spouse SBP annuity. SBP is a "unitary benefit." It cannot be divided between a surviving current spouse and a surviving former spouse. The only way around this would be the former spouse voluntarily giving consent to waive her rights to the surviving former spouse SBP annuity, or a court order authorizing the termination of the former spouse SBP coverage.

For the divorcing servicemember: "You are only allowed one adult SBP beneficiary. You cannot reserve part for a present or future spouse and part for a former spouse."


Former spouse SBP coverage may be changed after retirement to cover a new spouse only if:

----> a. The former spouse election was required by a court order and the retiree provides an acceptable certified court order permitting the change, or

-----> b. The former spouse election was made to comply with an agreement that is not part of a court order and the former spouse agrees in writing to the requested change.


I realize that this answer may not be entirely to your liking, and I regret being the bearer of information that you really don’t want to hear. But it would be unfair to you and unprofessional of me were I to provide you with anything less than truthful and honest information. I hope you understand.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you! Since it does not stipulate who pays the monthly premium, we will try to have her pay it. If she opts out because she doesn't want to pay the $250/month, at that time, based on the information you have provided, is it possible to receive this benefit? I understand that it is with a court order, or with her agreeing in writing?

Does his divorce decree award to former spouse any portion of husband's retired pay? Or does it just require that he elect SBP former spouse for wife's benefit?

The cost of the SBP coverage is paid by way of a reduction of the amount of retired pay to which the retiree would otherwise be entitled to receive. There is no cost until the servicemember retires and commences receipt of retired pay.

It is important to understand that in cases in which a former spouse is awarded a percentage of a military retiree's retired pay, and SBP coverage is elected for the former spouse (either voluntarily or involuntarily), the former spouse, in effect, pays a portion of the SBP premiums in an amount proportionate to the division of retired pay. This happens automatically because divisions of retired pay are based upon disposable retired pay, which has already been reduced because of the SBP premium.