Why knowledge, skill matter in military divorce cases

With the Fourth of July now less than a week away, people are undoubtedly busy solidifying their plans from attending parades to watching fireworks. No matter how people choose to celebrate our nation's adoption of the Declaration of Independence, chances are good that at some point their thoughts will turn to those brave men and women serving in the armed forces.

A large part of our gratitude for these individuals comes from the recognition of the great personal sacrifice that often accompanies their service. For example, many will be deployed to points near and far, something that can take a very real toll on their families left behind.

Indeed, the unfortunate reality is that the stresses of military life can sometimes put too much of a strain on marriages, such that couples have no choice but to go their separate ways.

In the event this difficult decision is made, it's imperative for the spouses to understand that a military divorce is typically more complex than a traditional dissolution of marriage. Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to the issue of "disposable retired pay."

What exactly is "disposable retired pay?"

As you might have surmised, disposable retired pay is the total monthly payment to which retired servicemembers are entitled after accounting for things like federal debt repayment, disability pay, forfeitures, fines, etc.

Are civilian spouses entitled to a portion of disposable retired pay?

Over 30 years ago, Congress passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act -- otherwise known as the USFSPA. This law provided some much-needed protection to civilian spouses by permitting the individual states to treat disposable retired income as marital property subject to division in a divorce.

Furthermore, the USFSPA allows civilian spouses ultimately awarded any portion of disposable retired pay to secure direct payment from the retired pay center, which in most cases is Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

We'll continue this discussion in our next post …

As you can see from the foregoing, military divorce is a complicated area of family law requiring both skill and knowledge. If you believe that your attorney made grievous errors in your military divorce or otherwise failed you in some capacity, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options.

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