Military retirement and divorce

The First District Court of Appeal, in Joanna Graham v. Nathaniel Graham, recently addressed the issue of military retirement accounts with monthly payouts. The issue in this case was whether it was proper to deduct any SBP (survivor benefit plan) premiums from the monthly payout before a former spouse received their portion of each monthly payout. The court decided that allowing someone to put an unrestricted sum of money into a SBP would basically allow that person to unilaterally modify the amount paid to the former spouse. Therefore, the court decided that the only time a SBP deduction can be made before the division of the monthly payment is if the SBP payment is pursuant to a court order. Otherwise, the former spouse gets their payout before the SBP is taken from the account.

If your divorce includes a military retirement, make sure that your family law attorney properly writes the provisions of your settlement agreement to ensure that your intent is clear.

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