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Military pension focus of Supreme Court family law case

On its surface divorce and its legal issues can seem relatively simple: a married couple decides to break up and they divide their assets and time with their children. This is a far too simplistic view of divorce. The reality for thousands of Louisianans is that divorce legal issues are complicated and the outcome of them can drastically affect their post-divorce life. Child custody, child support and asset division can all be challenging in their own rights, but there can also be special circumstances that make resolving these matters even more problematic.

To see an example, one need only look at a case that is pending before the Supreme Court. The case involves military pensions and how they should be handled during a divorce. The man had received a military pension, which was deemed a marital asset upon divorce. Therefore, the man's former wife was entitled to a portion his pension. However, the man was later determined to have a 20 percent disability rating. He elected to take his disability payment instead, which resulted in an offset to his pension. This offset caused the former wife to lose approximately $125 a month in payments from the pension.

The man's ex-wife took the matter to court and won. That ruling was upheld on appeal. But now the Supreme Court will hear the matter to determine if a federal law pre-empts a state court's order. The result of the case could have a significant effect on men and women across Louisiana, as it could mean ex-spouses losing pension pay or former military members being forced to make up the difference out of their own pocket.

This case serves as just one example of how family law can be transformed into a major legal issue. With so much on the line, those who want to ensure their legal rights are protected should consider whether seeking out legal counsel is right for them.

Source:, "Supreme Court May Change Divorce Pension Payments," Amy Bushatz, Dec. 8, 2016

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