Division of
Military Retirement Pay  Coverture Value Method
© 2014
Brian Mork, Ph.D. [Rev 1.6]
Home •
Site Index • Wiki • Blog
Abstract
This document presents the Dual Coverture Value (DCV) method of
dividing a military retirement upon divorce. Original research
has revealed the DCV method accomplishes the
same
division as previous standard methods, yet is much simpler. DCV
also applies to a much wider scope of situations which were
previously impossible. It works for Active Duty or Reserve, and any
combination of marriage before or after military duty  even multiple
marriages. It also properly handles marriage and work spanning January
28, 2008 (Reserve retirement pay before age 60). No other method
can do all of this with equity. DCV is unique and can save
significant litigation costs because the simplicity and clarity lend
toward equitable mediation.
This page includes a lot of mathematics and numbers. Another web page gives practical information about using DCV in the legal system.
Introduction
Divorce is a
path many people have to live with, and under these situations, USFSPA
laws allows military retirement benefits to be divided as a present day
asset rather
than future income. Doing so often manifests in a divorce order
that
says the spouse is awarded nominally 50% of the "military retirement
earned during the marriage." You can not believe how unecessarily
twisted and complicated it has gotten to actually describe what portion
was earned during the marriage. The stakes are large!
Military retirements are a significant benefit,
earned by both women
and men. As of March 2011, there were more
than twice as many military women divorcing (local
copy) than men. Among
enlisted, the military women divorce rate is
about 3x that of men. The overall military divorce rate in 2011
is
64%
higher
(local copy) than it was in 2001.
Military
divorce is a significant social issue
affecting both sexes. Dollar value of a military retirement in 2012
dollars range from $945,000 for an E7 to
$2,800,000 for an O8 (20 yr E7, or 30 yr O8, living until age
75).
The DCV method discussed
on this page addresses how to actually describe what part of a military
retirement is divisible as a marital asset. This is applicable to Active
Duty and Reserve
military retirements. If you are intested in Reserve military
specific issues,
please also see another web page about dividing
military reserve retirement pay. Other web pages deal with law and statutes, promotion enhancements,
and dual
coverture.
Discovery
My Ph.D. degree taught me to handle data and numbers with fidelity,
and to provide defensible answers that represent truth. My aerospace
flight test engineering work involves using data and metrics to create
& test
models of the real world on which people's lives depend.
Mathematical tools are used to monitor, verify, and predict the real
world.
I developed the Dual Coverture Value
(DCV) model of military retirements that allows easy math to divide
this marital asset in the case of divorce. Division methods have
accumulated since the 1982 USFSPA laws and a 1998 Department of Defense
Report to Congress regarding the functionality of USFSPA laws.
Spouses, attorneys, and judges have struggled to understand a difficult
retirement system and have grappled with equitable division through
lengthy, repeated, and narrowly scoped litigation.
The new DCV
model offers a better way! DCV is a family of division
formulas that are able to lucidly and simply duplicate the complicated
DFAS methods that exist for both Reserve and Active Duty
retirements. At the same time, new capability allows the DCV
methods to divide military retirement assets in marriage situations
that DFAS methods simply cannot do. DCV even can do multiple exspouses
rather than the inequitable "first come first serve" method DFAS is
currently limited to (see "Maximum Percentage" paragraph in a summer
2000 article published in General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division magazine.)
I have documented the DCV methods in a white paper and publicly
accessible web pages. Over the last few years, I have had the
opportunity to consult for attorneys and clients going through divorce,
and DCV has proved to be particularly useful in arbitration and
mediation because it is so lucid that it removes the desire to
litigate. I am looking for professional review from the legal
community, and partners to publish DCV in Family Law journals. I
want to build a consortium of sponsors to submit DCV to DFAS for formal
sponsorship and publication.
Comparison of Methods
When dealing with future disbursed civilian retirements, a coverture
fraction method
typically calculates what portion of a retirement was earned
during the marriage and is a marital asset. The marital asset
portion is then divided like other assets. This is a core concept: although a
military retirement can be treated as a marital asset, most times only some
of the military retirement is a marital asset. Quantitatively
describing the marital portion is the key to all division
methods. The marital portion is usually expressed as a fraction
or percentage (not
a dollar value) because the size of the retirement paycheck changes
each year based on changing military salaries:
Exspouse monthly payment =
Share Fraction * Marital Fraction * Changing Military Retirement
Pay
The goal is to determine the Marital or Coverture Fraction, multiply by
the Share Fraction (often 50%), then document the percentage number in
a court
order. Each month, DFAS will multiply that percentage by the
retirement pay and determine the exspousal payment. A hierarchical
diagram of all methods is given below. It helps to
understand that the purpose of any method is to simply generate a
marital fraction. After
all the effort is said and done, creating the percentage number is the
entire point of all the methods except the fixed dollar method.
Some authors, such as Mark Sullivan in his "Silent Partner" series, misrepresent this issue. For example, on Page 7 of
his "Military Pension Division: The Servicemember's Strategy" edition,
he states, "There are four separate ways to make the division that DFAS
will accept." This is not true.
Sullivan fixates on Fixed Dollar, Percentage Clause, Formula, and
Hypothetical because the DFAS document "Guidance on Dividing
Military Retired
Pay" (see references at the bottom of this webpage) offers these four
examples. Examples do NOT define acceptable
division methods. In fact, there are only TWO acceptable division
methods for DFAS: Fixed Dollar or Calculable Percentage. Either
you give them a dollar amount, a percentage amount, or you tell them
how to calculate a percentage amount when the military member retires.
Sullivan's writing and legal document templates are
often used in court, so it's important to drive this issue to
completion and replace Sullivan's confusion. There are TWO
acceptable ways to express a division to DFAS, and any calculation or
process or method providing one of those to ways is acceptable. If
there is any doubt, you
may reference USFSPA 10 USC 1408(a)(2)(c) directly:
"[A court order,] in the case of a division of property, specifically provides for the payment of an amount, expressed in dollars or as a percentage
of disposable retired pay, from the disposable retired pay of a member
to the spouse or former spouse of that member." (underline added)
The DFAS examples of Percentage Clause, Formula, and Hypothetical
Method are simply different examples of how to calculate a
percentage. Anything that gives DFAS a way to calculate a percentage is acceptable. This concept is diagrammed below:
The red equal sign is meant to indicate that the Dual Coverture and
Hypothetical
methods yield the same percentage if one stipulates that COLA is the
same as military pay raises each year. Much more documentation is
available from the Mork white paper listed in the references
below.
A tabular comparison of method features is given below.
Method
of Division >

Dual
Coverture Value

Dual Coverture

DFAS
Hypothetical Method

Civilian
Single Coverture Fraction *

Timevalue of money given after
payments start?

Both receive military pay raises.

Both receive military pay raises. 
Both receive military pay raises. 
Both receive military pay raises. 
Timevalue of money after
divorce, but before before payments start?

Both receive military pay raises.

Both receive military pay raises.

Spouses treated differently 
military receives military pay raises; exspouse receives COLA

Both receive military pay raises.

Requires attorney
handcalculation of COLA and hypothetical "High3" basepay? 
No 
No 
Yes 
No 
Postmarriage merit promotion
enhancements belong only to military member, per DoD report to Congress? 
Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Able to set aside asset value
preexisting the marriage? 
Yes

No

No

No

Handles division for
multiple spouses?

Yes

No

No

No

* Although civilian methods are inappropriate
for dividing a
military retirement, this column is included in the table because some
attorneys continue to promote this method for all situations.
This behavior damages military members with lack of equity. The
single
coverture method is not correct unless there were no military
promotions before or after
the marriage. For details,
see another web page titled "Division
of Military Retirement Pay  Promotion Enhancement".
Resources there give a point by point rebuttal to the civilian
method; continuing to use it when it's documented to be
inferior and inequitable is inexplicable.
Only the Dual Coverture Value method allows proper
handling of military duty and promotions that existed as a premarriage
asset. Like a car or dining room table
preexisting the marriage, preexisting assets are not divisible.
Preexisting retirement asset value
can be quantitatively separated and does not comingle with the rest of
the retirement. Only the Dual Coverture Value method can do this.
Additionally, when more than one spouse is involved, only the Dual
Coverture Value method can properly divide a military asset among multiple spouses and the military member.
Dual Coverture Value Method
For both Reserve and Active Duty retirements, the value of a military
retirement can be calculated by multiplying the number of duty points
times the value per point. For a Reservist, retirement points are
slightly
different but universally used to divide retirements. Consider a
militarily member applying for a Reserve retirement with retirement
points each worth 47 cents from the Federally
mandated retirement formula
"2.5% x
retirementbasepay / 360". For Active Duty, retirement points come
from duty days, accumulated at 365 per year, so the formula
for point value is "2.5% x retirementbasepay / 365". You can
multiply the point value by the
total number of points at retirement to determine how big the gross
retirement paycheck is going to be. In the diagram below the
total monthly retirement payment
would be 47.5¢ x 5415 points, or $2572.13. The area of any part of the diagram
represents asset value.
The diagram shows that the military member had 280 duty points when
they married. They had 3894 points when divorced, and military
member earned 5415 points as of retirement. Visually, the two
vertical bars toward the left of the
diagram may help you visualize one point. Showing 5415 of these
divisions across the page is too confusing, so the individual point
columns are merged together and shown as areas instead of thousands of
vertical lines.
The vertical extent of each point, hence the vertical extent of each
area,
is set by military promotions. For this hypothetical example,
based on when duty and promotion
enhancement occurred, consider when each portion of the 47 cent value
of a point was
earned. In the diagram, each point is
worth 14.7¢ calculated from the military rank when married, 35.0¢ when
divorced, and 47.5¢ when retired. In other words, 14.7¢ of the
point value was earned before the marriage, 20.3¢ was earned during the
marriage, and 12.5¢ earned after the marriage. Because the
numerically precise and quantifiable nature
of a military retirement allows such calculations, there is no
comingling. It is important to understand that all three values
are looked up on the SAME paychart. Do not look up the earlier
values using earlier pay charts. Use the same year paychart to find basepay
of the different ranks and different times, and turn this into point value using the
Federal formulas listed above.
Consider the three separate, noncomingled phases of the military
career in the example. Value is represented by the area of the
diagram:
 Before Marriage.
Dotted area. The 14.7¢
cents of value earned before the marriage is not a marriage
asset. It preexisted the marriage and because of this, it is not
a marital asset according to state law in almost every state of the
union. The 14.7¢ value is quantifiably separate, and is not
comingled like a bank account brought into marriage. During
court divorce proceedings during deposition or discovery, each party
lists bank accounts and assets. During this time, it is
appropriate to note "14.7¢ cents per point of military retirement
asset"
was earned before the marriage, and is quantifiably separable, and is
not comingled with anything during later years, and is not a marital
asset. This is identical to listing a car or motorycle or dining
room table you owned before the marriage, and having those items exempt
from division.
 During Marriage. White
area. Few
people debate that the 20.3¢ should be divided because the two
parties were married during these years. Typically the exspouse
portion of this asset would be assigned by the court at 50%.
 After Marriage.
Crosshatched area. Duty points and promotions earned after marriage
are not
passively earned like interest on a bank account or timevalue of money
or dividends of a 401(k) type retirement. Case law sometimes allow
civilian passivelyearned enhancements after a marriage to be divided
when the receiving party has to wait to get the money. Dividing
passivelyearned enhancements may be appropriate because the person
will collect the marital asset capital
and the interest earned on that capital. However, military duty and
promotions are actively earned
enhancements based on effort, schooling, study, and testing. They are
not passively earned like bank interest; they are earned by work and
effort. Done
after marriage, this effort is not shared by an exspouse. The 12.5¢
cents
of enhanced retirement value earned after the marriage are not a
marital asset and should not be divided.
If you want to try numbers specific to your situation,
download the Dual Coverture Value Calculator
spreadsheet from the references section below.
A practicum and stepbystep examples also available.
To divide assets, there are multiple sequential steps a court
must do. If any one of these steps are skipped, court orders are
susceptable to successful appeal, assuming proper documentation was
submitted during the original court action. Here
are the steps:
 Determine if something is a marital asset. USFSPA allows, but
does
not direct, a court to consider military retirement as a marital asset.
However, all portions of a military retirement
are not marital assets unless all
of the military career was during the marriage.
 Determine asset values as of some date. This is typically
the date of separation, the date of filing divorce, or the date of
final divorce order. Specificity and precision of military
retirement formulas makes this easy.
 Decide how to divide the asset. Many courts go with 50:50.
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to deviate from this, but it's
usually an uphill battle to argue against 50:50.
Retirement value portions actively earned outside the marriage that
are quantifiably separate do not get past the
first step.
Formula and Legal Language
You should download the document "Division of Reserve Military
Retirements" from the resources below.
Much more detail and
specific calculation examples are in that document. What follows
is a brief summary.
The Dual Coverture Value (DCV) coverture fraction is calculated by
diving the
value of
the white portion area of the above diagram by the total area
value. It's that simple! No other preexisting method is
anywhere close to this level of simplicity. William
Troyan, of Troyan, Inc writes that the New Jersey appellate court
decision to use Dual Coverture makes the preparation of division orders
substantially more complex. I would disagree: DCV methods are simple! It's just
that nobody prior has envisioned
and communicated the simple "beforeduringafter" area diagram
displayed above.
The area of the white
area does not change later in life based on the military members
actions. No matter
how much additional duty is done, it
never dilutes in value. If promotions occur, other parts of the
diagram become larger, but the marital asset portion does not become
larger or smaller. However, portion of the chart do become larger
if there are military pay chart increases. Also, if a military
person does not ever
retire, then nobody gets any retirement, and in the words of one
appellate court,
"awarding 50% of nothing is not in error." The only other option
would be to enslave the military person by forcing them to continue
enlistement until retirement, or try to obligate nonmilitary
retirement, which would be out of scope of UFSPA and earned outside the
window of marriage.
The DCV coverture fraction describes what portion of the total monthly
retirement
pay is a marital asset by dividing the white
portion area of the diagram by the total area:
C = ( D_{D}V_{D}D_{M}V_{M}
) / D_{R}V_{R}
C = (3894 * 35  280 * 14.7) / (5415 * 47.5)
C = 0.5139
_{
}
C is the coverture fraction
D is the duty point count at marriage, divorce, or retirement
(according to the subscript)
V is the value of a point at marriage, divorce, or retirement
(according to the subscript)
Multiply the coverture fraction by the disposable retirement monthly
payment, and you will
have the marital asset. The nonmilitary spouse is typically
awarded 50% of the marital asset.
If there was no duty before marriage, on the diagram above
there would be no "Before" area and the marriage values D_{M}
and V_{M}
are zero, and the formula from the Dual Coverture
Value method simplifies to the Dual Coverture method showing a ratio of
duty points and a ratio of rank value. This Dual Coverture method
is the one that gives the same mathematical result as the DFAS
Hypothetical Method if one stipulates that COLA raises each year are
the same as military pay raises each year.
C = ( D_{D}V_{D} ) / D_{R}V_{R}
C = ( D_{D}/D_{R} ) * ( V_{D}/V_{R} )
_{
}In a similar manner, if there are no promotions involved (V_{D}
= V_{R}), the formula simplies to the single coverture fraction
that the legal system has used for years:
C = ( D_{D}/D_{R} )
Notice that the Dual Coverture Value method may always be used because
the math
formula automatically simplifies to handle the more simple cases.
For
this reason, it should
always be used because nobody can predict if promotions or additional
marriages will happen in the future, necessitating a revisit to the
court if the other limited methods were used.
The legal language to implement the Dual Coverture Value method
for military duty both before and after a single marriage is given here
(replace all the bolded values with YOUR values). This is
the textual equivalent of dividing the white area by the total area,
creating the coverture fraction.
Without promotions, or with other spouses, the exact text may change,
but the idea remains: simply
describe the area that is a marital asset,
and divide it by the total area.
“The former spouse is awarded a
percentage of the member’s disposable military retired pay each month,
to be
computed by multiplying 50%
times a Coverture Fraction. The Coverture Fraction numerator is (3894 points times basepay of W3@15yr) minus (280 points times basepay of E5<2 yr). The Coverture
Fraction denominator is member’s total number of reserve retirement
points earned times basepay upon retirement. All basepay values
will be looked up on the 2012
year pay chart."
Notice you can use basepay instead of point value to make the
calculation simpler for DFAS because if you did all the "divide by 360"
and 2.5% numbers, the effect cancels anyhow when it's in both the
numerator and denominator. In my opinion, it’s easier to write
the same thing with the math formula, which is better than trying to
describe math with
English sentences:
“The former spouse is awarded a
percentage of the member’s disposable military retired pay, to be
computed by multiplying 50%
times a Coverture Fraction. The coverture fraction is
C = (3894 * 5040.6  280 * 2116.80)/(D_{R}BP_{R})
where D_{R} is number of
retirement points earned, and BP_{R} is retirement
basepay. For this calculation, basepay values will be looked up
on the 2012 year pay chart.”
Using the numbers from the continuing example, C = (3894 * 5040.6 
280 * 2116.8) / (5415 * 6840) = 0.5139 (matches above). The
marital asset is
51.39% of the retirement net disposable amount. Spousal portion
would be 50% of that or, 25.70%.
Besides dividing each monthly payment, don't forget if you are working
with a Reserve
retirement
with a marriage and duty spanning 28 January 2008, some or all of the
monthly retirement payments before military member age 60 may not be marital assets; they must
be divided with a different coverture fraction. See the 3D Value section, the document "Division
of Reserve and Active Duty Military
Retirements" from the references below, and
the web page
"Attorney Guide Dividing Military Reserve Pay".
The Dual Coverture Value
method described in this document is a 2dimensional method. If
Reserve retirement before age 60 is involved in your situation, please
contact me and I'll describe to you the extended 3dimensional method.
Summarizing, the DCV method is done with these steps with your
attourney, and then submit the words from Step 7 and Step 8 as part of
the division order:
 Write down the points for each transition of life (start
military, marriage, divorce, retirements), accurate down to the
day.
During Active Duty, it’s one point per day. Reserve points can be
obtained from a Reserve Point Summary Statement.
 Look up military monthly base pay on a pay chart, using longevity
and rank of the military person at each transition of life. It is
important to use the same paychart, not any specific year pay
chart.
It is often convenient to use the year of divorce since that’s when
everybody is looking at the issue.
 Convert paychart base pay to point values. Divide by 360
and
multiply by 2.5%. These numbers should come out approximately 20¢
to
80¢.
 Draw the DCV area diagram.
 Write down how to calculate the marriage portion of the diagram,
by looking at the DCV area diagram. All the numbers should be
known,
because this will be based only on present day or history.
 Write down how to calculate the total area of the DCV area
diagram. This may contain numbers you don’t know yet such as
total
retirement points.
 Write down the words to divide the marriage portion by the total
portion. You should get a fraction 0.0 to 1.0, which is the coverture
fraction.
 The division order language will be 50% times the coverture
fraction times the monthly disposable retirement pay. On rare
occasions, something other 50% may be used if the marital asset is not
divided equally.
Iconic Simplicity
The DCV method of diagraming phases of life and the divisibility of
retirement earned during those phases of life is so lucid and simple
that the
patterns can be reduced to essentially icons. The horizontal axes
represents time moving from left to right across the bottom of the
icons. The vertical axes represents the value of each point, dependent
on promotions. Remember, the specific dollar amount corresponding
to any area goes
up each year as the military base pay goes up.
In each diagram below, the
white portion would be the divisible marital asset, while the dotted
portion would not be divisible. The coverture fraction is
calculated by dividing the white area by the total area. The
exact point counts and point values that apply for a given case would
be used to calculate the areas.
The legal division order language would simply describe how to
calculate the white area divided by the total area. Remember,
horizontal divisions (vertical lines) are point counts at that moment
in life, and vertical
divisions (horizontal lines) are point values (2.5% * basepay / 360)
for whatever rank.
Icon Picture

Description
of Life

Formula calculating white
marital portion Coverture Fraction (C). *


This
diagram represents becoming 1) married, 2) military, 3) retired, 4)
divorced. In other words, the entire military career was shared with
the same spouse. No coverture
fraction is required. Nonmilitary spouse receives
nominally half of the disposable monthly retirement payment.

C = 1.0


This
diagram represents becoming 1) married, 2) military, duty with or
without promotions, 3) divorced, duty without promotions, 4) retired.
Because there are no promotions after the marriage, this can be handled
like civilian retirements with a single coverture fraction.

C = D_{D}/D_{R}


This diagram represents becoming
1) military, 2) married, duty and promotions, 3) retired, 4) divorced.

C = (D_{R}V_{R}D_{M}V_{M})/(D_{R}V_{R})


This diagram represents becoming
1) married, 2) military, duty with or without promotions, 3) divorced,
duty with promotions, 4) retired. In this situation, the Dual
Coverture Value method simplies to the Dual Coverture method.
This will give the same result as the DFAS Hypothetical method if you
stipulate that military pay raises are the same as COLA.

C = (D_{D}V_{D})/(D_{R}V_{R})


This
diagram represents becoming 1) military, duty with or without
promotions, 2) married, duty without promotions, 3) divorced, no more
duty or promotions, 4)
retired.

C = (D_{D}D_{M})/D_{R} 

This diagram represents becoming
1) military, duty with or without promotions, 2) married, duty and
promotions, 3)
divorced, duty and promotions, 4) retired.

C = (D_{D}V_{D}D_{M}V_{M})/(D_{R}V_{R}) 

This diagram represents becoming
1) married #1, 2) military, duty with or without promotions, 3)
divorced, duty and
promotions, married #2, 4) married, duty without promotions,
5)divorced, 6) retired.

C1 = (D_{D1}V_{D1})/(D_{R}V_{R})
C2 = (D_{D2}V_{D2}D_{M2}V_{M2})/(D_{R}V_{R}) 
* The symbols and subscripts in the third column are defined earlier on
this web page.
Comparison to DFAS Methods
In the Fall 2012 newsletter of the ABA
Family Law Military Committee,
Amy Privette, a previous paralegal for Mark Sullivan, wrote an article
titled "Quick Tips for Handling Military Retirement Benefits". She echoed her mentor's errors by
identifying four DFAS methods of dividing military pay: fixed dollar,
percentage, formula, and hypothetical award. These correspond to
Sections IV(A), IV(C), and IV(D) of DFAS document titled "Guidance on
Dividing Military Retired Pay."
Privette stated that award formulas had to be stated one of these
four ways to be acceptable to DFAS. In fact, there are only two (2)
acceptable types for DFAS, while DFAS gave four (4)
examples. Confusion like this pervades the area of
military retirements asset division. Quoting paragraph
IV(A) from the
DFAS document, "The USFSPA states
that for a retired pay as property
award to be enforceable, it must be expressed either as a fixed dollar
amount or as a percentage of disposable retired pay."
Notice this quote identifies 2 options (fixed or percentage), not
4. Although
the DFAS document is only guidance for attorneys, DFAS' footnote
references the regulatory authority referenced earlier on this webpage.
It is critical to realize that the DFAS "formula" or "hypothetical
methods"
calculate a percentage and therefore fit into the second type.
See the green hierarchy diagram above. More
revealing is the fact that ANY method that creates a fraction
percentage is acceptable to DFAS, so long as the fraction is directly
stated, or is possible for DFAS
to calculate. In DFAS'
words, "If a court order provides a
formula award and also provides all
the variables necessary to compute the formula, we will complete the
calculation as is [sic] using those variables provided in the
order."
If the fraction or percentage from two different methods
is the same, then any two methods are the same. This appears in
the hierarchy diagram above with the red equal sign. How you got to
the fraction just doesn't matter to DFAS.
All Dual Coverture methods create fractions and can be calculated by
DFAS. It is instructional to take each of the DFAS proposed methods of
creating fractions and correlate them to the much simpler Dual
Coverture Value method of creating the same fraction.
Method
in DFAS published guidance

Simpler
DCV Formula giving the same fraction.

Fixed Dollar

percentage calculation not
required

Named Percentage

percentage calculation not
required (just state it).

Formula Example 2

C = D_{D}/D_{R} 
Formula Example 3

C = D_{D}/D_{R} 
Hypothetical Example 4 & 7

C = (D_{D}V_{D})/(D_{R}V_{R}) 
Hypothetical Example 5 & 8

C = (D_{D}V_{D})/(D_{R}V_{R}) 
Hypothetical Example 6 & 9

C = (D_{D}V_{D})/(D_{R}V_{R}) 
3Dimensional Value
The Dual Coverture Value method diagrammed above is a 2dimensional
(visualized with areas) method. If you are dealing with a Reserve
(not Active Duty) retirement and
military duty spanning January 28, 2008, there is one more extension to
the 2dimensional method you must consider. Visualize the
"beforemarriageafter" diagram or one of the 7 iconified diagrams
above as a monthly slice of income. In your mind, turn the diagram
sideways and stack each successive month of retirement pay on top of
prior months and you'll build a 3dimensional stack of the area
diagrams, or a stack of monthly payments. The volume of this stack
represents the accumulated value of
military retirement rather than a single monthly payment.
Traditionally, the stack starts when the military member turns 60 years
of age because that's when a Reserve retirement begins to pay
out. However, 10 USC 12731(f)(2)(A) created a new and
quantifiably separate retirement for Reservists that does not comingle
in any way with the traditional retirement. For more detailed
reading see the Reservist
retirement division web page.
The new law clearly
and quantifiably authorizes the receipt of retirement pay before age 60
dependent only on military duty done January 28th, 2008 and
after. As a result of this law, the "stack" of monthly payments
may begin prior to military member age 60. The coverture fraction
that applies to each slice of the stack may be different before and
after military member age 60 based on when the marriage occured compared to January 28th.
There is no commingling of the old and the new retirement benefit; it
is proper to divide each with its own coverture fraction as a separate
asset.
Three conditions could exist.
 If a marriage
exists only after January 28th, 2008, then all monthly slices
are to be
divided the same way as described above.
 If a marriage ends
before
January 28th, the exspouse in no way contributes to the
retirement points accumulated after January 28th, which monthformonth
dictate how many months prior to age 60 retirement pay is started.
Getting these extra months of pay
is based only on duty after January 28th. Under this second condition,
the payments before age 60 would have a coverture fraction of zero 
in
otherwords, the nonmilitary spouse would receive no portion of the
payments before age 60 because the spouse in no way contributed to the
duty points causing the payments. In this situation, the asset division
order must explicitly tell DFAS to not divide payments before age 60,
and divide payments like normal after age 60.
 If the marriage spans January
28th, then the payments age 60 and
following should be divided with a coverture fraction as described in
all the paragraphs above. For payments before age 60, a new area
value diagram must be created using only points after January
28th. The horizontal axes of the second
diagram would include points ONLY earned after January 28th. The
vertical axes would start with point value as of January 28th and show
only promotions after that date. This second area value diagram
would yield a second coverture fraction to apply for all payments
before age 60. DFAS must be provided with both coverture
fractions and directed to use one before age 60 and the other for age
60 and following.
Damages
The resultant damages of doing military division with a
single
(civilian) coverture when it should be a dual coverture (military
promotions)
are significant. If someone divorced as a Major and retired as a
Colonel, the 2013 pay chart shows a 34.4% increase in retirement
(proportional to base pay) due only to the rank change attained after
marriage. Other situations would be higher or lower. Because the
34% mistake would comes from
the military member to
the
nonmilitary member, that creates a double,
or 68% average, error in equity. This is much larger than other
differences judged to be significant by courts, including the 15%
rule
of thumb on income changes to change support payments, or the 5%
threshold where medical insurance would be ordered for a supported
child. Over a 20 year retirement, this would accumulate a
$878,481
mistake in marital asset value. Multiply this error by the number
of military in the
nation and the
number
of divorces, and you'll
see that this is a $Billion dollar issue that needs the lucid,
equitable clarity of the Dual Coverture Value method.
Conclusion
Original research
has revealed the DCV method accomplishes the
same
division as previous standard methods, yet is much simpler. DCV
also applies to a much wider scope of situations which were
previously impossible. If you want to try numbers specific to your situation,
download the Dual Coverture Value Calculator
spreadsheet from the references section below.
A practicum and stepbystep examples also available.
 Mork white paper: Attorney
Instructions  Division of Reserve
and Active Duty Military Retirements (increa
copy).
 DFAS "Guidance on Dividing Military Retired
Pay", April 2012, 20 pgs, 119
KB pdf. (DFAS.mil,
increa
copy)
 DFAS "Attorney
Instructions  Dividing
Military Retired Pay", April 2001,
19 pgs, 74kb pdf. (DFAS.mil,
increa
copy).
 DoD Report to Committee on Armed Services of the US Senate and
House of Representatives, 1998. (Defense.gov,
increa
copy) (84
pgs, 279kb pdf)
 Blog post Dual
Coverture is better than DFAS Hypothetical Method,
February 2011.
 DCV Does Simple Division Ordersreply
to William Troyan.
 Excel spreadsheet for doing Dual
Coverture Value Calculator spreadsheet, September 2012.
 "Female GIs struggle with higher rate of divorce", March 2011. (militarytimes.com,
increa copy)
 "Air Force divorce rate highest in military", December 2011. (militarytimes.com,
increa copy).
 "Be Specific in Divorce Agreements to Avoid Future Legal
Trouble", March 2011, (airforcetimes.com,
increa copy).
This document was
edited using Kompozer. © 2015
Brian Mork, Ph.D.