Divorce and the Collapse of the Three-Legged Stool: Setting Servicemembers Up for Success in the Age of BRS and COVID-19
111 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 20, 2020
Over the past few years, many monumental tax and benefit law changes have created a need to re-evaluate the problem of divorce and retirement in the military community. This need has become especially vital, because the military has transitioned from the legacy retirement system to the Blended Retirement System (BRS). To a certain degree, this retirement model shifts a portion of the financial risk to servicemembers and their family members as they will need to make their own investment decisions in an uncertain economic market to protect assets in their defined contribution plans. In addition, significant threats to the overall economy posed by disasters such as the exponential spread of the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have created increasing unemployment and the need to rely more heavily on health care and Social Security support structures.
This article argues that military marriage partners need to learn to function efficiently within this new and more fragile economic paradigm to ensure that their families are financially self-sufficient even if the partners divorce. In addition, as some servicemembers may fail to take action to provide for their intended surviving beneficiaries in the event of their divorce and subsequent death, the federal government should take action to effectuate the likely intent of these servicemembers at the time of their death. Furthermore, the federal government should take action to increase the economic sustainability of Social Security, which military marriage partners may need to rely upon after divorce as many may struggle financially to support separate households.
Keywords: military law, divorce, tax, estate planning, trusts, wills, financial planning, social security
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation