Property division more complicated for military spouses

On behalf of Loughmiller Higgins, Attorneys at Law posted in Divorce on Thursday, March 22, 2012.

Property division is never easy when couples divorce, but it can get even more complicated when one spouse is in the military. When dividing up assets in divorce proceedings, a military pension can be one of the largest assets in the marriage.

Even though the divorce court may decide the appropriate property division, if the appropriate paperwork is not filed through the appropriate military channels, the actual benefits of the pension may not automatically extend to the nonmilitary spouse. This, in turn, can cause headaches for those who are already undergoing the painful process of divorce. For Texas military couples who are confronting a divorce, several steps must be followed to ensure that the court-approved property division is upheld.

If the marriage and military service overlapped for 10 years, the government will send pension benefits directly to the nonmilitary spouse. However, if the marriage and military service did not overlap, the military spouse will receive the entire pension directly and will have to send payments to the ex-spouse. For those spouses who live in different states, this may cause complications. If the military spouse stops sending these payments to an ex-spouse, the government will not enforce this payment, and it will be up to the nonmilitary spouse to initiate court proceedings to resolve the matter, which can be expensive and time-consuming for both parties involved.

As for all Texas couples experiencing a divorce, it is important for the couple to understand the rights and privileges provided by law. Although having a military spouse may complicate property division, there are certain accommodations that are allowed. The best approach is to work to become familiar with relevant law and procedure so as to pursue an equitable resolution of all matters that truly reflects the intentions of the parties.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Divorce: Splitting Up a Rich Military Pension,” Ellen E. Schultz, March 9, 2012

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