Overview of the Domestic Relations Order Process

  1.  The parties agree on a division amount, or the court orders a division amount of a military pension.
  2.  Based on the agreement, or order of the court, we draft a Domestic Relations Order (“DRO”) and a decree of divorce indicating the division of pension;
  3. At the final hearing, a DRO is given to the court for them to sign;
  4. After the final hearing, a lawyer combines the documents listed in this post into a complete DRO “application” and mails the packet then to the address listed on this post.;
  5. All parties wait about 90 days, and DFAS reviews the application.  It will either be accepted or changes will be requested to the application.
  6. Notice of acceptance or changes will be mailed to the parties.
  7. If changes are necessary, they will be made and a second addendum to the application will again mailed to the same address.


The W-4P (linked to below).  This form is used by DFAS to withhold taxes before making payments to the Former Spouse.  You can elect not to have taxes withheld.  As Cook & Cook Law Firm are not accountants, we cannot offer instructions/ advice on filling out this form and ask that you have consult with a tax professional.

Make sure you use the W-4P as the W-4 is for the service member and this is not done as a part of a DRO application.

Please download the form here:

DFAS w-4p for DRO


The Direct Deposit Form (linked to below).  This form is used by DFAS to enable payments to the former spouse without needing to send the payments by direct mail. The form is self-explanatory.

Please download the form here:

Direct Deposit DFAS

FORM 3- THE DD2293

The dd2293 is required as part of the Application which will disclose SSN and contact information of both parties along with the amount that the order is taking from service member’s disposable retired pay and giving to former spouse.  Note, that if the amount is not a percentage or lump sum, you can simply write “amount to be determined based on formula provided in order.”  

Please download the form here:




We will need to send a certified copy of your divorce decree (we draft this);

We will need to send a certified copy of your domestic relations order (we draft this);

We will write a cover letter that certifies the finality of your court orders and explains what the application encloses, along with all pertinent contact information.

However, we do NOT need to send your marriage certificate if your date of marriage is on the decree.

Social Security Numbers and DFAS

Currently, DFAS requires that the service member’s SSN be on the order and correspondence to DFAS in a Domestic Relations Order Application.  You can write the SSN on each page of the application so that you meet this requirement.

Having processed numerous DRO applications, the most informative link on how to do so is located here on the DFAS webpage.

Where the Domestic Relations Order Application is Mailed:

You will see, that you cannot fax in or email in a Domestic Relations Order Application. Rather all of them will be mailed to:

Defense Finance and Accounting Service
Cleveland DFAS-HGA/CL
P.O. Box 998002
Cleveland, Ohio 44199-8002

Facts About Our Experience Dealing with DFAS Military Division Applications For Divorce Clients:

  • It often takes 3 months after sending the original application before you receive any response back;
  • If the application is not complete, DFAS will not send it back, but rather will give you a letter notifying you of the defect and giving you a time period to cure it (usually 90 days);
  • Whenever you receive mail about the DRO, all of the other parties listed on the DRO do as well, which helps keep everyone informed.


Survivor Benefits In Divorce

According to DFAS

Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) Coverage:
A member may elect “former spouse” SBP coverage for a former spouse who was originally a “spouse” beneficiary under SBP, provided that the parties were divorced after the member became eligible to receive retired pay. In addition, a former spouse may initiate SBP coverage on her own behalf (“deemed election”), provided that this election is made within one year of the issuance of the court order requiring SBP coverage. All correspondence regarding SBP coverage should be sent directly to the Retired Pay office:

Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Retired Pay
8899 E 56th Street
Indianapolis IN 46249-1200
Toll free 1-800-321-1080

So, if a survivor benefit plan is going to be elected by a former spouse after divorce, this deemed election should be sent to a separate address than the DRO application.

DFAS also indicates that the cost of the survivor benefit plan will come out of the pay of the service member:

Pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 1452, the SBP premium must be deducted from the member’s retired pay. The SBP premium cannot be deducted from the former spouse’s portion of the member’s retired pay. Any provision in a court order stating that the premium should be deducted from the former spouse’s portion is unenforceable by DFAS Garnishment Law Directorate. The former spouse and the member may make alternate payment arrangements outside of the statedprocedures.

If the former spouse is awarded a percentage of your retired pay, then SBP is an authorized deduction which will reduce disposable retired pay. Disposable retired pay is defined by the USFSPA as a member’s total monthly retired pay entitlement minus authorized deductions.

Here is Our Cook & Cook Video on The Military Retirement Division Calculation