How is military retired pay calculated in a Wisconsin divorce?

When a servicemember is divorced, his/her military retired pay is often divided with the ex-spouse.   Whether you are the servicemember or the spouse, it is vital to ensure that the calculation is done properly.   A Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP) is a document required by the military to specify the exact terms of the division.  The COAP must state the exact amount of the benefit awarded to the ex-spouse.   If it does not, the COAP is likely to be rejected.

The calculation of military retired pay is usually based on the servicemember’s highest 36 months of basic pay.  This calculation is commonly called “High-3.”   Other types of allowances, such as housing (BAH) or subsistence (BAS) are not included in the High-3 calculation.

Usually, the servicemember’s highest years of pay are the most recent.  Therefore, it may be wise to consider the fairness of awarding the ex-spouse a full 50% of the High-3 benefit if the marriage is shorter, or the majority of the benefit was accrued relatively late in marriage.

Both servicemembers and their spouses have an important interest in ensuring the accuracy and understanding of military retired pay.   The attorneys at Kowalski Family Law have handled numerous Wisconsin military divorce cases, and are happy to consult with you.

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