Does a civilian court have the authority to award military benefits toa spousein a divorce?

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Does a civilian court have the authority to award military benefits toa spousein a divorce?

My father was married to his spouse for 2 years just before retiring from the military. They were married for a total of 10 years and separated for 5 years. In the divorce decree, my father was told to may his former spouse a sum of money from his retirement. Then it said he needed to keep her on his military medical insurance for 3 years. The decree also stated that she was entitled to his survivor benefits. My father tried to put her on his insurance and the military refused. Can the court change the decree and have my father pay for another insurance? Do I have any say over the survivor benefits?

Asked on August 27, 2010 under Family Law, Tennessee

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You father needs to go to see an attorney that deals with military benefits to see what was ordered and what is permitted under the law.  It sounds as if his attorney may not have been aware of the laws as they apply to military pensions and how they are divided and what is permitted.  He will then have to move to vacate the original order and request to reopen the matter or whatever procedural paperwork is necessary to make sure that he can indeed comply with the court's directive on the one hand and make sure that he is not getting shafted on the other. It is my general understanding that the spouse is entitled to only that potion of the retirement that accrues during the marriage and before retirement.  It is calculated differently than other pensions. Good luck.


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