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US Supreme Court weighs in on military benefits issue

If you or your ex is in the military and you divorced here in California, chances are that military retirement funds were included in your property division agreement. In accordance with community property laws in this state, you most likely agreed or were ordered to split those funds in half when they took effect. However, the non-military party may not actually receive what was promised.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a ruling that will affect people in California who receive or plan to receive half of an ex's military retirement pay.

According to reports, retirement pay can be waived by a veteran if he or she elects to receive disability payments. The government requires the waiver to avoid "double dipping." 

However, when retirement pay is waived, the former spouse collecting half of the retirement benefits will see a decrease in months payments as a result. And, as recently ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, courts cannot compensate for this decrease by giving the former spouse more assets.

The high court referred back to a case in California to confirm that the funds waived in order to receive disability benefits are not considered community property.

This might all seem confusing, and it is a very complicated matter. Unfortunately, it is just one of the various elements of military divorce that make for some unexpected challenges.

With all this in mind, we urge anyone who is in the military or married to someone in the military to consult a legal representative in the event of divorce. There are a number of nuances to military splits that you may not understand or be familiar with, but thankfully, you can work with an attorney who can explain the laws in place and what options and rights you have.

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