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Supreme Court restricts spouse's share of military retirement

A recent United States Supreme Court ruling could affect some of the many Nashville residents who are former members of the military or are married to veterans. Earlier this week, the high court ruled that states cannot raise an ex spouse's share of military retirement pay to compensate for lost benefits when the veteran receives disability pay.

The case had its origins when a couple divorced in 1991 and agreed in a property division settlement that the wife would get half of her ex's military retirement pay. His 20-year career ended the following year and both ex-spouses began to get their portions of his retirement pay.

However, he had problems with degenerative joint disease in a shoulder. In 2005, the VA approved his disability claim, but required him to waive an equal amount from his retirement benefits. The result was that his retirement pay was cut and his ex-wife began getting payments reduced by $127 each month.

She asked a court to enforce their earlier divorce agreement and the court agreed with her that she should receive funds from her ex to make up for the reduction. Two years ago, the Arizona Supreme Court weighed in, agreeing with the family court.

But the U.S. Supreme Court has the final word, reversing those earlier decisions by ruling that the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act shields the veteran's disability benefits from being used to make up to his former spouse the reduction in retirement pay.

To find out more about how this decision might impact you in a divorce, speak to a family law attorney experienced in property division disputes.

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