As a veteran in California, you and your family enjoy the generosity of the United States government as it pertains to financial, medical and retirement benefits in return for the sacrifices you have made in service to your country. However, at Lowenstein Brown, we know that this beneficence can become a burden in the event that you and your spouse decide to divorce.

The Survivor Benefit Plan provides an inflation-adjusted monthly income in the form of a lifetime annuity to eligible beneficiaries, including spouses and children, following the death of a military retiree. It is very difficult to change the SBP election you make at the time of your retirement. However, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Services, divorce is one of the few circumstances in which making alterations to a previously made election is possible.

As your divorce proceeds, the court may require you to extend SBP coverage to your former spouse following the dissolution of the marriage. If so, you will see it reflected in the final divorce decree. To accomplish this, either you or your former spouse must complete and submit an SBP Election Statement for Former Spouse coverage to DFAS via fax or mail.

If your divorce decree does not require you to extend SBP benefits to your former spouse, you may choose to do so voluntarily, or you may remove him or her from the plan. Whether you cover your former spouse voluntarily or compulsorily, you have one year from the date of the divorce in which to submit the paperwork.

You will receive a refund for any premiums deducted beyond the date of divorce if you choose to remove your former spouse from the plan according to the terms of your divorce decree. More information about military divorce is available on our website.