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The California Supreme Court rendered a decision in a divorce matter recently that may set a precedent that could affect other pending cases of the same type. A woman had requested as part of the couples' divorce settlement that she receive a portion of a prospective pension increase that her ex-husband would be receiving from the military. The court ruled against the woman based on the manner in which the increase was obtained.

The woman's ex-husband was previously in the Air Force and then became a firefighter once he left the service. As a firefighter, his pension plan allowed him to buy "credits" based on his previous military service that would increase the amount of his pension payments. The wife claimed a portion of the increase in payments based on the fact that the credits were purchased with jointly held monies during the marriage. The court, however, determined that the ex-husband earned the credits through his military service which was prior to their marriage.

The woman was awarded $6,700, representing half of the cost of purchasing the credits, but will have no share in the pension increase. Often an ex-spouse will seek to receive a portion of any increase in income. Many times ex-spouses are not aware that a change has taken place until after the divorce is final and may not know whether a modification is appropriate in their situation.

Divorce is often a difficult process, and most people are relieved when matters are finally settled. However, life changes do happen, and sometimes they affect decisions made previously in court. Becoming familiar with the procedures to request a modification to a California order of support and how a current court ruling like this one may affect those changes can be helpful in deciding what legal remedies to pursue.

Source: ContraCostaTimes.com, "CA Supreme Court rules on divorce pension issue," June 25, 2013

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