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Military divorce case being heard by Supreme Court

Monday, July 16, 2018

Any Texas couple going through a divorce knows that it can be a complicated process. But when one or both of the spouses are in the military, there are several unique issues to consider. Recently, a lawsuit involving military divorce made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

The case before the Supreme Court deals with the issue of military retirement pay in a divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act is in question. The justices are hearing arguments on how this law should be interpreted, specifically what constitutes as disposable retired pay.

The ex-spouses, divorced in 1991, had been divorced 14 years when the initial dispute arose. Part of the divorce settlement provided for the ex-wife to receive half of her ex-husband's military retirement pay. When the man decided to receive tax-free disability benefits and waive a portion of his retirement, the monthly payments to his ex-wife decreased. As a result of his decision, he actually began receiving more money monthly. The ex-wife asked that the court restore the original amount of money she had been receiving.

The Arizona Supreme Court had agreed with the ex-wife before the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. At issue is protecting the disability payments of a veteran, regardless of when someone became eligible for disability pay. Based on the justices' questions to date in the hearings, it is difficult to predict what the outcome of the case may be.

Most Texas couples will not have their divorce issues debated by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, when contemplating divorce, all service members or their spouses should consider contacting an attorney experienced in military divorce cases. A lawyer familiar with the legal issues surrounding military personnel can provide guidance through the divorce process. It is important to have strong legal counsel to work on one's behalf during this stressful time.

Source: scotusblogcom, "Argument analysis: Quiet bench means few signals on military divorce case", Amy Howe, March 20, 2017

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