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Texas veterans see retirement pay lessen with property division

Texas military families support one another through times of deployment, country instability and the general perils of life. Within the family unit, the constant moving around and lack of physical support during times of deployment can leave the left behind spouse feeling alone and uncertain. Sometimes, these feelings or other disagreements can lead families to separate. As divorces sometimes go, the community assets, which can include disposable retired pay, will be divided. This property division can spell trouble later down the road if not handled correctly during the divorce negotiations.

For military families who marriage has dissolved, the issue of property division could come in when military retirement pay is lessened to the ex-spouse when the veteran begins to receive a disability benefit. Under federal law, should the issue of disability surface after a couple has been divorced and the monthly retirement payments lessen as well, both spouses will see the reduced amount. The veteran, however, will get to keep all of the disability pay. For divorces that have already taken place, this may or may not take effect.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that retirement income is waived to accept disability pay. This meant that retirement pay and disability pay was split down the middle and dispersed equally to both the veteran and the ex-spouse. With the court's most recent decision, this will not be the case. What really matters if the issue of disability arises is when and if the retiree waives retired pay.

For Texas military families, the thought of divorce may never cross one's mind. Others may be knee-deep in the trenches and trying to navigate the heartbreaking situation. An attorney who understands divorce, property division (which includes retirement) and military benefits can help one to understand the outcome of certain proposed decisions.

Source: pnj.com, "Supreme Court: States erred in dividing retiree disability pay with ex-spouses", Tom Philpott, June 3, 2017

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