Military divorce could see changes in maintenance payments

California is home to many who are in the military. And as many of these people know, sustaining a marriage when one or both spouses are in the military is not always easy. For some, it's just not workable. Military divorce is similar to a civilian one in many aspects; however, there are often other factors involved that complicate a military divorce.

One aspect of military divorce that has come into the spotlight recently is the income used for calculating payments of spousal maintenance. In all divorces, the calculation factors in all income of the spouses. However, in cases of military divorce, this income could include disability benefit payments being received due to the injuries suffered while a service member was on active duty.

In most states, including California, the disability benefit payments are used in any spousal maintenance calculation. This is because it has been determined that the intent of the law was that the disability benefits be paid not only to the soldier but also to his or her family. However, at least one state has changed this calculation rule and now bars the use of disability income in calculations for spousal support.

In one case, a disabled soldier has asked the U.S. Supreme court to consider reviewing his military divorce matter. He argues that his disability benefit was only to compensate him for his injuries, rather than for his whole family unit. If the court accepts the case and credits this argument, it could mean changes in the amount of payments that a divorced military spouse may receive in maintenance.

Source: HeraldNet.com, "Ruling sought on split of military benefits in divorce," Tom Philpott, May 21, 2012

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