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Military's lifetime alimony rules under siege

Military servicemen and women, as well as their advocates, are speaking out against a federal law that they believe treats them unfairly in divorce. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act designates military retirement pay as property for the purpose of divorce, meaning that it may be split up to 50/50. This allows some former spouses to collect half of their exes' retirement pay for life.

Military veterans put their lives at risk to protect our country so it is understandable that they want to protect the benefits that their service affords them. And it may seem unfair if a service member's former spouse continues to collect half of their retirement pay even after re-marrying or getting a better-paying job.

However, those former spouses also make sacrifices to the military. Many of them may have let their careers suffer in order to follow a relocating soldier, or to raise their children with little assistance. Their sacrifices also support the military and they may feel entitled to a share of the benefits. For many, it is unfair to expect them to start over with nothing when they've supported a military spouse.

Spousal support is not the only serious issue that can be addressed in a divorce agreement. It can also outline a plan for the division of property - including wealth, real estate, physical property and other assets - as well as matters of child support, custody and visitation time. Each of these issues may have its own financial implications as well.

Even if you and your former spouse have a collaborative spirit as you embark on the divorce process, it is wise to work with a family law attorney. He or she can help you review the terms of your divorce agreement and advise you of any hidden pitfalls or limitations you may not have considered. This can help you plan for your new future and protect your interests - as well as your loved ones'.

Source: Newsmax, "Military Divorcees Aim to End Lifetime Alimony Rules," David Yonkman, Feb. 18, 2013

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