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Congress changes Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act

Congress has changed the 1982 Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act. The ex-spouse law was tweaked in a way that gives divorce courts the ability to classify military retired pay as jointly earned property in divorce proceedings. This is big news considering the fact that Congress has not even considered making small changes to the USFSPA in more than 10 years.

On Wednesday, the Congressional amendment was approved, and if it is enacted, it will benefit service members who get divorced after it goes into effect. The primary part of the bill that the measure seeks to change is the “windfall” feature, which retired service members have been criticizing for tens of years. If the service member is not retired before he or she gets his divorce, then the spouse will have the right to a percentage of his or her retirement pay in the future.

Service members complain about the windfall feature because it allows ex-spouses to receive more money, the longer the service member stays in the military — even after the divorce and/or separation has occurred. In most property division matters, assets, earnings and/or value accrued after the date of separation and/or finalization of divorce is usually classified as individual property.

Military divorces are unique and different laws apply to them. Therefore, former and current military service members and their spouses may want to speak with a Nevada family law attorney to learn about their legal rights before beginning their divorce process. By discussing their situations with a divorce lawyer, service members and spouses of service members can make informed decisions about the best strategies to take in the pursuit of their divorces.

Source: HeraldNet, “Panel votes to end pay-benefit slide, tweak ex-spouse law,” Tom Philpott, accessed May 06, 2016

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