As we have discussed before on our divorce blog, when it comes to divorce in the military, a number of possible jurisdictions, long deployments and child care issues can complicate matters when it comes to child custody and visitation. Laws regarding alimony regarding spouses of former service members can be quite confusing as well — and often, as some people would say, unfair.
One law in particular — the 1982 Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act, known as the USFSPA — sticks in the craws of many people formerly in uniform. According to the legislation, states can elect to classify non-disability military retirement pay not as income in the sense that most people would think of it but as property.
This distinction allows the former spouses to sometimes collect what amounts to lifetime alimony payments — even if that former spouse has gotten remarried or is otherwise self-supporting. What rankles people who are subjected to the laws is the fact that few other government employees fall under its requirements — including members of Congress, despite the fact that they authored and passed the bill.
However, there is not universal acclaim for changing the law. The former spouses who receive the payments generally do not want to see them changed — and many of them feel that they have earned them, having supported a husband or wife who may have lived on the other side of the world during the formative years of the couple’s children — and it is hard to dispute that feeling.
Regardless of the circumstances, adjustments to alimony are often handled through an experienced family law attorney.
Source: Newsmax, “Military Divorcees Aim to End Lifetime Alimony Rules,” David Yonkman, Feb. 18, 2013