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Cases of Interest: Military Benefits
National Legal Research Group, Inc.

ARKANSAS: Holaway v. Holaway, ___ Ark. App. ___, 16 S.W.3d 302 (2000).
The husband's military retirement benefits had not vested and thus were not an asset to be divided upon divorce.
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ARKANSAS: Christopher v. Christopher, ___ Ark. ___, 871 S.W.2d 398 (1994).
When the parties divorced at the end of their second marriage to each other, the wife was entitled to a percentage of the husband's military retirement pay based upon the total number of years of their two marriages.
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CALIFORNIA: Olsen v. Olsen, 20 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1343 (Cal. Ct. App. 1994).
The parties were divorced in 1974 after a 24-year marriage. The husband had been serving in the armed forces during the parties' marriage. Pursuant to the divorce decree, he was ordered to pay the wife spousal support of $400 per month for 11 years.
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COLORADO: In re Marriage of Riley-Cunningham, 7 P.3d 992 (Colo. Ct. App. 2000).
Could the trial court use the net present-value method to distribute a military pension?
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COLORADO: In re Marriage of Akins, 932 P.2d 863 (Colo. Ct. App. 1997).
The trial court in Colorado, where the parties used to have their marital domicile and where the wife still lived, could exercise long-arm jurisdiction over the husband, but the husband's past domicile in, or minimum contacts with, Colorado could not form the basis for the exercise of subject-matter jurisdiction to divide his military pension.
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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Angulo v. Gochnauer, No. 99-CV-679 (D.C. May 17, 2001).
The issue was the wife's share in her ex-husband's retirement benefits under the Foreign Service Act of 1980.
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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Cox v. Cox, 707 A.2d 1297 (D.C. 1998).
The wife's ignorance of how to secure her share of the husband's military pension benefits did not warrant modification of the parties' divorce decree more than one year after it was entered.
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FLORIDA: Anciaux v. Anciaux, 666 So. 2d 577 (Fla. DCA 1996).
The husband's military retirement plan was a marital asset subject to distribution even though the spouses were not married for at least 10 years while the husband was a member of the federal uniformed services.
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FLORIDA: Kelson v. Kelson, 675 So. 2d 1370 (Fla. 1996).
Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) benefits paid to a service member upon voluntary separation from the armed forces qualify as military retirement pay under a property settlement agreement that provides for division of military retirement pay, and federal law does not preclude a state court from enforcing a property settlement that is found to encompass VSI benefits.
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FLORIDA: Abernethy v. Fishkin, 699 So. 2d 235 (Fla. 1997).
A state court may enforce a final judgment which guarantees a steady monthly payment to a former spouse through an indemnification provision requiring alternative payments to compensate for a reduction in nondisability benefits divided as part of a property settlement agreement.
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KANSAS: In re Marriage of Pierce, ___ Kan. App. 2d ___, 982 P.2d 995 (1999).
After the divorce decree was entered, the husband converted his retirement pay to veteran's disability benefits that are not divisible as marital property under state law. The court of appeals held that the trial court could not order the husband to convert the disability benefits back to retirement pay.
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LOUISIANA: Fricks v. Fricks, 771 So. 2d 790 (La. Ct. App. 2000).
The wife was entitled to a community share of the husband's military retirement benefits when the right to the benefits arose under the community property.
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MARYLAND: Wamsley v. Wamsley, 20 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1161 (Md. 1994).
Husband grew up in Maryland. He enlisted in the Navy in 1981 and left the state at that time. The husband married in Mississippi in 1985. He was subsequently stationed in Virginia for two years and in Italy for three years. In 1991, he was assigned to duty in Virginia once again.
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MINNESOTA: Deason v. Deason, 611 N.W.2d 369 (Minn. Ct. App. 2000).
Does the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA) effectively deny the wife any portion of the husband's military pension?
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MISSISSIPPI: Prescott v. Prescott, 736 So. 2d 409 (Miss. Ct. App. 1999).
The valuation of retirement benefits should take into account the period of the marriage. Only part of the retirement funds are marital property since the marriage covered only part of the employment period.
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MISSOURI: Gendron v. Gendron, 996 S.W.2d 668 (Mo. Ct. App. 1999).
The wife was entitled to a fraction of the husband's military retirement pension that was equal to the amount accrued during the marriage.
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MISSOURI: In re Strassner, 21 Fam. L. Rep. (BNA) 1247 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995).
Under Mansell v. Mansell, 490 U.S. 581 (1989), a divorce court may not award to a former spouse of a military retiree any amounts of retired pay that do not fall within the definition of "disposable retired pay." This includes disability benefits a retiree may elect to receive in lieu of retirement pay.
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NEBRASKA: Kramer v. Kramer, 510 N.W.2d 351 (Neb. Ct. App. 1993).
Alimony was not the proper vehicle to divide husband's military pension.
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NEW JERSEY: Torwich v. Torwich, 282 N.J. Super. 524, 660 A.2d 1214 (App. Div. 1995
The former wife filed a motion to adjust the equitable distribution award of the husband's military pension after the husband waived part of his military retirement pay in order to receive military disability pay.
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NEW MEXICO: Hennessy v. Duryea, ___ N.M. ___, 955 P.2d 683 (Ct. App. 1998).
Federal law precluded the wife from being awarded a share of the husband's military retirement benefits where the parties' 1973 divorce decree did not divide the benefits or reserve jurisdiction to do so.
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NORTH CAROLINA: White v. White, ___ N.C. App. ___, 568 S.E.2d 283 (2002).
When a spouse elects to take veterans' disability benefits, that spouse's military retirement benefits are reduced, resulting in a decreased monthly award to the other spouse. Federal law prevents the division of disability benefits in this situation, but it does not prevent a state court from modifying its division of retirement benefits.
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NORTH CAROLINA: Anderson v. Anderson, No. COA00-1008 (N.C. Ct. App. Aug. 7, 2001).
The wife appealed an order for summary judgment granted in favor of the husband on the wife's claim for an equitable distribution of the husband's military retirement pension. In this case, the couple married in January 1987.
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NORTH DAKOTA: Moilan v. Moilan, 598 N.W.2d 81 (N.D 1999).
The valuation of retirement benefits must be considered at present value, and the division of such benefits at the time of the divorce is the preferable course.
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NORTH DAKOTA: Knoop v. Knoop, 542 N.W.2d 114 (N.D. 1996).
Federal law did not require that the term "retirement pay" in the parties' divorce judgment be construed to mean "disposable retired pay."
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OKLAHOMA: Pavatt v. Pavatt, 920 P.2d 1074 (Okla. Ct. App. 1996).
The husband's Special Separation Benefit (SSB) was a retirement plan asset that must be divided with the wife pursuant to the parties' divorce decree.
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OKLAHOMA: Kulscar v. Kulscar, 896 P.2d 1206 (Okla. Ct. App. 1995).
A Special Separation Benefit received by the husband when he left active military service was a "retirement" benefit in which the wife was entitled to share under the parties' divorce decree.
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PENNSYLVANIA: Meyer v. Meyer, 749 A.2d 917 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2000).
An increase in retirement benefits occurring after the couple's separation is not considered marital property.
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PENNSYLVANIA: Smith v. Smith, ___ Pa. ___, 749 A.2d 921 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2000).
The husband's state police pension benefits accruing prior to the second marriage to the same wife were not marital property subject to equitable distribution at the second divorce. The property rights that the wife had in the pension that accrued during the couple's first marriage were terminated at the first divorce.
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SOUTH CAROLINA: Tirado v. Tirado, ___ S.C. ___, 530 S.E.2d 128 (Ct. App. 2000).
Is the wife entitled to reimbursement from the husband for the reduction in her monthly Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) checks due to his postdivorce waiver of retirement pay in favor of increased disability benefits?
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SOUTH CAROLINA: Fisher v. Fisher, ___ S.C. ___, 462 S.E.2d 303 (Ct. App. 1995).
The husband's voluntary separation incentive benefits were marital property in which the wife was entitled to share, even though their separation agreement granted her a share of his military "retirement" benefits.
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SOUTH DAKOTA: Porter v. Porter, 542 N.W.2d 448 (S.D. 1996).
The wife's 1994 motion to reopen the parties' 1981 divorce decree in order to obtain a share of the husband's military retirement benefits was not filed within a reasonable time, and an independent action for relief from judgment was barred by laches.
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TEXAS: Wright v. Eckhardt, 32 S.W.3d 891 (Tex. App. 2000).
The wife was entitled to one-half of the husband's military retainer pay since she was awarded one-half of the husband's retirement benefits. In this case, the couple were divorced in 1994. The divorce decree awarded the wife one-half of the husband's employment retirement benefits, including benefits derived from the husband's service in the United States Navy.
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UTAH: Marsh v. Marsh, 973 P.2d 988 (Utah Ct. App. 1999).
Military separation pay received by the husband after the parties' divorce was an advance on the husband's retirement pay and thus was subject to distribution under the parties' divorce decree.
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WASHINGTON: Greene v. Greene, ___ Wash. App. ___, 986 P.2d 144 (1999).
The trial court erroneously awarded the wife percentage increases in the husband's military pension attributable solely to the husband's additional service.
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VIRGINIA: Irlbacher v. Irlbacher, No. 2083-00-4 (Va. Ct. App. Aug. 7, 2001).
The wife contended that the trial court erred in ordering that the wife's retroactive share of the husband's military retirement pay be based on the husband's "net" retirement pay rather than the "taxable income" portion of his retirement pay.
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VIRGINIA: McLellan v. McLellan, ___ Va. App. ___, 533 S.E.2d 635 (2000).
The wife was entitled to an award of a portion of the husband's military disability retirement pay, according to the terms of the separation agreement.
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VIRGINIA: Bullis v. Bullis, 22 Va. App. 24, 467 S.E.2d 830 (1996).
An Arizona order modifying the parties' divorce decree and awarding the wife one-half of the community interest in the husband's disposable military retirement pay was entitled to full faith and credit in a proceeding to enforce the judgment in Virginia.
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VIRGINIA: Nicholson v. Nicholson, ___ Va. App. ___, 463 S.E.2d 334 (1995).
The parties' property settlement agreement, in which the wife relinquished and released all rights in the husband's property, did not constitute an express waiver of her right to a share of his foreign service retirement annuity.
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VIRGINIA: Toomey v. Toomey, ___ Va. App. ___, 454 S.E.2d 735 (1995).
Ex parte divorce decree did not foreclose the wife from later seeking equitable distribution of her property right in the husband's military pension.
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VIRGINIA: Owen v. Owen, 14 Va. App. 623, 419 S.E.2d 267 (1992).
The parties were married in 1963 while the husband was serving in the United States Army. The parties separated in 1987. At that time the husband had been on active duty with the Army for 25 years.
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WASHINGTON: In re Marriage of Jennings, ___ Wash. 2d ___, 980 P.2d 1248 (1999).
The reduction of the husband's military retirement benefits was an extraordinary circumstance justifying the reopening of the couple's dissolution decree.
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