The spouse of a servicemember should be aware of accrued leave as a potential asset at the time of divorce. Servicemembers accrue 30 days of paid leave each year. Upon honorable separation from the military, servicemembers can choose how to apply unused leave. Of course, the member can simply take the leave. However, the member can also cash it out, up to 60 total days, at his/her daily rate of pay. For example, a servicemember earning $6,600 monthly is paid $220/day. The member could thus cash out $13,200 upon separation.
It is unlikely that the servicemember will retire during the divorce, so it is impossible to know if the member will actually have any accrued leave upon future retirement. If the member has accrued leave at the time of divorce, that leave could be valued at the pay rate x days accrued. However, if the member uses all accrued leave after divorce, he/she will already have paid that asset at divorce that does not actually exist after all. On the other hand, if the accrued leave at date of divorce is not counted, and is later cashed out, the ex-spouse will have left a potential marital asset on the table.
The viability of accrued leave may somewhat depend on how close the servicemember is to separation from the military. Neverthless, it is a potentially valuable asset that both spouses should be aware of.
Attorney David Kowalski routinely handles military divorces for both servicemembers and their spouses. Contact him at 608-709-5000 with any questions.