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Military Pensions and Divorce – A Radical Rewrite?

Two Department of Defense appropriations bills before the House and Senate will, if enacted, rewrite the law governing division of military pensions upon divorce by revoking the power granted to states to divide military pensions and cutting back the share which a former spouse will receive.

For example, assume that John Doe retires as a sergeant major (E-9) from the Army after thirty years of service. He and Jane Doe were divorced ten years ago. Since John and Jane were married for twenty years of service, under the current law Jane would receive 50% of 2/3 (20/30) of John’s actual retirement pay.

Under the proposed law, Jane would only be entitled to 50% of John’s retirement pay as a sergeant first class (E-7) which was John’s rank after twenty years. The loss to Jane (and the windfall to John) is substantial when calculated. To make matters worse, there is no cost of living adjustment allowing Jane’s share to rise over time since all such adjustments would injure to John’s benefit.

Finally, the proposed law would permit no exceptions by allowing divorcing parties to settle their case in a different manner (even though over 90% of divorces cases are settled). This so-called “fixed benefit” division is opposed by the American Bar Association and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers as a major intrusion upon courts, lawyers, service members, former spouses and retirees.

COPYRIGHT © 2020, STARK & STARKNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 348
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About this Author

John S. Eory, Stark and Stark Law, Divorce Lawyer, Family Attorney
Shareholder

John S. Eory is a Shareholder and Co-Chair of Stark & Stark’s Divorce Group. John limits his practice to divorce, custody, domestic violence and other family law matters. He is the former Chair of the New Jersey Supreme Court District VII Ethics Committee. John is a lecturer for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education and the New Jersey Association for Justice and has appeared as a speaker on television and radio with regard to family law topics. John was selected by the Mercer County Bar Association and the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in...

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