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Supreme Court rules on military property division matter

For Colorado residents who are members of the United States military and are preparing to divorce, understanding how that process will play out is a top priority. The division of marital wealth is a serious matter during a divorce, as the outcome can have a lasting impact on all parties. A recent Supreme Court case delved into one aspect of military property division, and a determination was made concerning retirement pay.

The case centered on how a veteran's retirement pay was handled during his divorce. At the time that the couple split in 1991, it was determined that the former wife was entitled to half of her husband's retirement pay once those payment took effect. He did retire from the Air Force in 1992, and both he and his ex-wife began receiving payments the following year.  

However, he later filed a claim for disability, and asserted that his degenerative joint disorder in his shoulder was the result of his time in the service. That claim was approved, and he began receiving disability payments. He was then required to waive the amount that he was receiving for disability from his retirement payments, because the military does not allow "double dipping." That led to a reduction in his wife's payment as well as his own, which is what brought the matter to court.

The case worked its way through the process, and the Supreme Court eventually ruled that the former wife was not entitled to be compensated for the share of the servicemember's retirement benefits that were waived as part of his decision to seek disability payments. That means that he will not be forced to pay his former wife for the difference between the old and new retirement amount, which was $127 per month. For Colorado residents who are facing a divorce and are concerned about how these and other property division issues could impact them, it may be time to contact a divorce attorney to review available options.  

Source:, "Justices Clarify Benefits in Military Divorce Case", Kevin Lessmiller, May 15, 2017

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