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Divorce raises issues concerning military benefits

Florida service members have a lot to think about when they first enlist. In addition to their instructions and physical training, they may hear lectures about the military benefits and obligations that may apply to certain circumstances, such as financial issues or divorce. Recently, a U.S. Supreme Court decision has brought about changes in the rules states must follow concerning retirement pay for ex-spouses of service members.

States may award a civilian spouse up to half the service member's retirement pay following a divorce. The amount the civilian receives is based on the date of the service member's retirement, not the date of the divorce. If a service member opts to accept disability pay, which is untaxed, the service member's retirement pay must be reduced by the amount of disability pay he or she receives. Of course, if the retirement pay is reduced, that means the civilian's share of the retirement pay is also reduced.

In the past, states have ordered service members to compensate their ex-spouses for the difference from their disability pay. However, the Supreme Court has now ruled that disability pay, unlike retirement pay, is not a shared marital asset and so should not be added to an ex-spouse's support when retirement benefits are divided in a divorce. The Court suggested that lower courts, when determining divorce settlements, take into consideration the possibility that a service member may elect to receive disability and, in those circumstances, find other ways to balance the financial issues.

As complex as a civilian divorce can be, throwing military law into the mix often complicates matters even more. Having a thorough understanding of the military benefits and rights of both parties going through divorce will ensure those rights are protected. The assistance of a Florida attorney with experience in military divorce often proves beneficial.

Source: taskandpurpose.com, "New Supreme Court Decision Has Serious Implications For Ex-Military Spouses", Sarah Sicard, Accessed on Dec. 10, 2017

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