Assisting Clients With Legal Malpractice Cases In Military Divorce
Did your attorney mishandle your military divorce? You may have a legal malpractice claim. Sometimes divorce attorneys take on lawsuits without understanding the complex laws that affect military divorces. Our firm is here to handle those cases.
Contact the Florida law office of St. Denis & Davey, P.A. Call us at 1-800-785-2153 to see how we can assist with your case.
Common Mistakes In Handling Military Divorces
If you have gone through a military divorce or are in the middle of a military divorce, you know there are many factors involved and how complicated these types of divorces can be. The special circumstances of military divorce can make for several common mistakes in legal representation, including:
- Forgetting to properly distribute the military pension. The failure to properly distribute the military pension or receive proper consideration for waiving the same is a serious error that cannot be corrected after final judgment in the great majority of cases. In Florida, pursuant to Florida Statute 61.076, all vested and non-vested pensions or retirement benefits are marital property and must be considered in the equitable distribution scheme in court.
- Distributing the military pension but with an unqualified order. This is a very common error that can be easily avoided. What one must remember is to distribute the pension if possible with a fixed dollar amount or a percentage. Failure to draft a qualified military order early on or using language subject to interpretation means that the parties may litigate the meaning of their agreement after DFAS rejects the nonqualified military order. Such litigation can be time-consuming and expensive.
- Failing to remember that a military pension stops or terminates upon the death of the retired member. If the parties are married when a military member retires, federal law requires the member to elect survivor benefit plans at the maximum rate for his wife, unless the parties agree in writing to waive the benefit or elect a lesser rate of coverage. Upon the dissolution of marriage, the spouse becomes a former spouse and is not covered under this survivor benefit pension, unless you obtain a court order naming the former spouse as the irrevocable former spouse beneficiary or survivor benefit plan at the maximum rate and perfect the court order. If you fail to serve the deemed election letter within one year and the member remarries, his new wife automatically becomes the beneficiary. The failure to lock or secure a former spouse survivor benefit plan is one of the worst errors counsel can make and one of the most frequent.
- Mishandling of military divorces involving military service of at least 20 years. If there is military service of at least 20 years, then the former spouse is entitled to Tricare and military medical treatment. It doesn’t cost the spouse anything for the coverage and it can save a substantial amount of money. Another common mistake is failing to include the military pension as part of the equitable distribution of marital assets. This is often the biggest marital asset in any military divorce.
Schedule An Appointment Today
The attorneys at St. Denis & Davey are here for you if your attorney has failed you in your military divorce. Our Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa and Panama City, lawyers are here to speak with you. Call one of our convenient office locations to discuss your potential legal malpractice claim at 1-800-785-2153. You can also email the firm online.