“Sanctuary” for Reserve Component Servicemembers on Active Duty

“Sanctuary” protects a Reserve Component Servicemember (i.e., Reserve or National Guard) who is on active duty (other than for training), and within two years of becoming eligible for retired pay at 20 years of active duty service, from involuntary release from active duty unless the release is approved by the Secretary of the Servicemember’s Military Department (e.g., Secretary of the Army, etc.).

In certain cases, if the Reserve Component Servicemember is ordered to active duty for less than 180 days, the Secretary may require the Servicemember to execute a waiver so they don’t “stumble or sneak” into sanctuary.

“Sanctuary” impacts military divorce since any domestic relations order (DRO) dividing a Reserve Component Servicemember’s disposable retired pay should include award language for both a “Reserve Component retirement” and “active duty retirement” when the Reserve Component Servicemember is in sanctuary or near entering sanctuary. Having both awards in the DRO precludes a Former Spouse from having to obtain a clarification order if their attorney fails to notice and factor this issue. My firm’s DROs provide both awards in the DRO whenever sanctuary is a concern.

Author Jim Cramp is a retired active duty colonel and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm, PLLC. The firm specializes in Federal Civil Service and Military Divorce matters, as well as other family law matters that affect Federal Civil Service and Military families.

See 10 U.S.C. Section 12686; 10 U.S.C. Section 1176; and 10 U.S.C. Section 12646 for further information. The terms “sanctuary” does not appears in the statutes. It evolved from the effect of the statutes and policy.