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Military divorce amendment may change division of retirement pay

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Divorce among military families in Texas is not uncommon. Military life is stressful because it often involves moving frequently and leaving civilian spouses alone during deployments. For decades, military divorce has had protections in place for the spouses of those in uniform, on the premise that those spouses often sacrifice their own careers for the career of the one who is serving. Those protections may be changing, and some in the military feel those changes are a good thing.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act allows states to include the retirement pay of service members as marital property divided during a divorce. However, the pay is based on the years of service and rank of the service member at retirement. For example, if a couple divorces after two years when the service member is still a private, the civilian spouse may receive a share of that member's retirement pay based on 30 years of service and a final rank of staff sergeant.

In some cases, military members serve for a lifetime and are left with little retirement pay due to a divorce years before. It may be even more complicated if the service member remarries and cannot depend on the divided retirement pay to be enough. The proposed changes to the law will base the pay to a former spouse on the rank and years of service at the time of the divorce instead of the time of retirement. Many in the military feel this is fair and long overdue.

Divorce is rarely easy, and a military divorce has its own share of confusion and frustration. Whether one is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or the spouse of someone who serves, understanding one's rights and having support may make all the difference. Many in Texas find that having an experienced attorney to guide them through the emotional issues may relieve some of the stress.

Source: wftv.com, "Proposal could give less taxpayer money to divorced spouses of troops", Samantha Manning, Aug. 12, 2016

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