A retired military member and his wife got divorced. The man was entitled to a pension, to which his wife had a claim, but had a disability. He changed a portion of the pension so that it was instead considered disability benefits.
The Arizona Supreme Court then said that the man still had to provide compensation to his ex. Since the pension’s value was lowered, the court said that she lost money and needed the compensation to make up for it.
The U.S. Supreme Court, however, said that Congress had already taken action to ensure that the disability benefits given to soldiers could not be divided up in divorce cases. That money was supposed to go directly to the military member and not to an ex. The justice who made the ruling did say that he knew this could create a “hardship” for the ex, but the Arizona court could not go against Congress.
As such, the lower court has been told it needs to reconsider the case.
The law at the heart of the case is the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act of 1982. It both says that an ex can’t claim disability benefits and says that an ex may be entitled to part of a military pension. The Supreme Court is working to uphold the entire law in this case.
Divorce cases are not always simple and easy. Financial details can make them incredibly complex, and it’s crucial for both parties to know what laws govern the situation, how they have been applied in the past, and what they mean moving forward.
Source: Cronkite News, “Supreme Court sends second divorce settlement case back to Arizona,” Nathan J. Fish, May 22, 2017