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Understanding retired military benefits for former spouses

Whether a civilian or a military couple, marital issues could present themselves for New Mexico couples. While there are methods to address divorce legal issues for both civilian and military couples seeking to dissolve their union, certain laws are designated for military service members with regards to their military benefits and what rights the person's former spouse has to these benefits.

Through a court order, a final decree of divorce can be issued in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction of that court and general military laws, providing for child support, alimony payments and the division of property. With regards to property division, military law provides the payment of a certain amount or a certain percentage of disposable retired pay.

While it is subject to limitations, a court is able to treat disposable retired pay as either sole property of the service member or as property of the service member and the person's former spouse. A court is not able to treat retired pay as property or partition any amount of retired pay in the event of a divorce if the divorce was issued before June 25, 1981 and the court did not treat any amount of the retired pay as property of the service member and the member's former spouse.

Lastly, when a former spouse is awarded retired pay, this does not create any right, title of interest in the benefit that can be sold, assigned, transferred of disposed of. This means that these payments cannot be passed to another party through inheritances.

The above information is only informative and does not seek to provide advice regarding military benefits and the application of military laws. Divorce can lead to complex legal issues, and those going through a military divorce should understand how military laws affect dissolution. Furthermore, spouses should understand former spouse rights and how they are applicable in their situation.

Source: Uscode.house.gov, "§1408. Payment of retired or retainer pay in compliance with court orders," accessed June 1, 2015

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