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Civilians in a military divorce are protected by law

Military life takes a toll on a marriage. Long deployments, frequent moves and the emotional detachment that often accompanies military experiences can become frustrating for the non-service member, putting a strain on the relationship. For some families in Texas, military divorce is an unfortunate result.  

In 1982, Congress determined that, because of the sacrifices civilians make when they marry a service member, those civilians should have some protection in case of divorce. Often, civilians give up their own careers and retirement funds for the sake of their spouse's military career. Therefore, Congress passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.

This law states that spouses of military members are entitled to the same portion of a military retirement pay as they are of any other marital property. The law gives state courts flexibility within their laws to divide the pension equally if that is the state law for community property, even if the couple was married for only one year. A service member's disability pay is not considered community property.

The USFSPA also allows a former spouse to maintain other military benefits -- such as medical coverage and commissary privileges -- if the civilian meets certain criteria. Some of the benefits may continue indefinitely, and others end when the civilian spouse remarries. The nuances of military divorce are many, and anyone in Texas who is facing that possibility would be wise to discuss his or her situation with an experienced attorney to be sure that all applicable rights are fully protected.

Source: military.com, "Military Divorce: Rules for Dividing the Pension", Accessed on Sept. 21, 2016

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