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Military benefits during divorce clarified by justices

In a recent decision from the Supreme Court, it was stated that a state cannot increase the amount that a former spouse gets from a veteran's military retirement pay in certain circumstances. This cannot be done in order to make up for any loss of benefits that the spouse may experience, if that loss is because the veteran filed a waiver to receive disability pay. When such a waiver is filed and accepted, the veteran's military benefits are decreased in order to keep the veteran from receiving double benefits. This decision affects those military members residing in Florida and other states.

The decision stems from a case that began in 1991 when a member of the military and his wife were divorced. At the time, the two agreed that she would be entitled to half of the husband's retirement pay when he began receiving it. They both started getting the monthly pay when the man retired from the military.

Several years later, the man developed a degenerative joint disease that was said to be related to his military service. He filed for disability and was approved. When he began to receive the pay from the disability, he had to sign the waiver to stop receiving the same amount from his retirement pay. This caused his ex-wife's half of the pay to be $127 less per month than she was used to getting.

The ex-wife sued in family court and won her case. Now, several years later, that decision has been reversed. The Supreme Court justices decided that the state cannot grant money from a waiver for disability to the former spouse. She is now only entitled to half of the current military retirement pay.

The division of military benefits during a military divorce can be complicated. Anyone in Florida who is considering this type of divorce could benefit from seeking the counsel of an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney. These lawyers keep up with the latest court decisions in order to properly advise their clients on how to proceed with their case.

Source: courthousenews.com, "Justices Clarify Benefits in Military Divorce Case", Kevin Lessmiller, May 15, 2017

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