What Is an SBP Election in a Military Divorce?


In a divorce involving a member of the military—or a retired member of the military—a former spouse can request in the military divorce that the member elect to cover them under the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), which will continue their share of the member’s retirement benefit if the member dies while benefits are being paid.

Without this coverage, the former spouse’s share of the retirement benefit will terminate upon the member’s death.

What’s Allowed for SBP Election in a Military Divorce

The maximum amount a former spouse will receive is 55 percent of the retired member’s gross retirement pay. The amount of the SBP share can be based on as little as $300 of the member’s gross retirement pay or up to the full amount of the pay.

The premium for the SBP is based on 6.5 percent of the full retired pay or the coverage amount.  For tax purposes, the premium is deducted pre-tax, thus the retired member and the former spouse are in effect splitting the costs.

One benefit to the former spouse is that if he or she remarries, eligibility is suspended but can be reinstated if the new marriage ends in death, annulment, or divorce.  

If the former spouse is age 55 or older upon remarriage, the SBP benefit continues without interruption or cessation.

Military.com provides a detailed explanation and common answers related to the SBP benefit and military divorce.

Contact an San Diego Divorce Lawyer About Military Divorce

When you’re going through a military divorce, an experienced divorce attorney can help you understand the process, include SBP election.

If you are considering divorce or have already made the difficult decision to pursue divorce and have questions, contact JWB Family Law to schedule a free consultation.

The Importance of the CFLS Designation

A Certified Family Law Specialist, or CFLS, is an attorney who has obtained certification in the standards of California family law and demonstrated optimal legal competence. Attorneys who obtain this certification have specific expertise in all aspects of family law, which includes divorce or the dissolution of marriagechild and spousal support, child custody, and temporary restraining orders, among other areas of emphasis.

Not every attorney practicing family law has obtained this certification. In fact, the designation remains relatively rare—there are fewer than 2,000 CFLS attorneys in California and fewer than 200 in San Diego.

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