Tucson, AZ- A recent decision by the Arizona Supreme Court will impact divorce settlements for spouses of disabled military members. The decision means some ex-military spouses will receive a smaller divorce settlement.
The Decision in Howell v. Howell
The case before the Arizona, Howell vs. Howell, centered on a couple who got divorced in 1991. At the time of their divorce, the pension John Howell received was considered a marital asset under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), a federal law that states marital assets should be split between 50/50.
Military.com reports that in 2005., John Howell received a 20 percent disability rating from the VA and decided to draw some income from his retirement benefits under pension fund offset rules. That decision resulted in a drop in his ex-wife Sandra’s pension.
Sandra Howell took her case to court seeking to recover the $125 a month she lost in income because her husband elected to receive disability benefits. An appeals court sided with Mrs. Howell and ordered her ex-husband to make up the difference in her pension.
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled in John Howell’s favor in mid-May, ruling that disability benefits for military members do not count as retirement income amidst a divorce. The ruling was met with praise from some veterans groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but advocates for military spouses say the ruling will have a negative economic impact on former spouses who rely on the income.
Justices said judges should consider how an offset could affect a divorce settlement when dividing a couple’s assets.
Speak with a Divorce Attorney in Arizona
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USAttorneys can connect you with an experienced divorce lawyer in Tucson. They will use their experience and knowledge to get the best possible divorce settlement. Call and set up a consultation to learn what steps you can take to ensure your satisfied with your divorce settlement. If you plan to ask for spousal support, speak to a divorce lawyer to explain how you can get financial support following your divorce.