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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 19302
Experience:  Lawyer and current JAG officer.
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I was married to an Air Force man for 14 years...we had 5 children.

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I was married to an Air Force man for 14 years...we had 5 children. We were divorced in 1973. (I got custody of all 5 children). He paid me $400 a month child support and carried 3 of the children on his income tax until about 1982. The subject of his military retirement pay was not even addressed in the divorce decree. I did not know that I could get part of it.

We have each been married and widowed in the interim years. We are both currently single and, to my knowledge neither of his later 2 wives are receiving those benefits. I am widowed and living on my Social Security. My question is, has too much time passed or are there other factors that would make me ineligible to receive part of his retirement. With his retirement, he makes about 3 times what I do and I just wonder if spending 14 years and raising 5 children practically alone doesn't count for something.

If you can't answer this question, could you direct me to someone who can?


Thank you

Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I have nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines, including JAG.


Unfortunately, the law doesn't make 14 years of marriage automatically count for something. I know that's not what you would like to hear, but it's legally true.


All the law does is grant state courts the right to grant you a portion of military retirement, just like they can with civilian forms of retirement. In the civilian world, a person married to someone that earns a civilian retirement from the railroad or any other form of civilian retirement does not gain an automatic right to any of that retirement either. Their rights would be controlled by a divorce decree, just like your rights are.


So, the only way to obtain any right is to have a divorce court, the original divorce court, reopen the divorce and award you a portion now. That is the only method and is also the challenge, because courts do not like reopening closed cases, even when they are only a few years closed. In your situation, your case has been closed for decades.


You would have to establish that your ex or his attorney actually committed some form of fraud to keep you from obtaining a right to that retirement and you'd also have to show a recent discovery of that fraud in order to convince a court to reopen the divorce this late in time.


It is not legally impossible, but it is exceedingly difficult and you have to have the right facts to do it. I wish I could tell you differently here, but the law is strict on this issue. Only a court order can create a right for you, legally speaking.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I suspected this would be the case...I was a pretty ignorant girl when I divorced my husband. The base legal officer did tell me I could get 2/3 of his pay but didn't mention retirement. I opted to only ask for $400.

I'm sorry that the base legal attorney failed you back then. It's unfortunate and we're seeing a lot of that these days.


Take care. As I said, I wish I could give you better news.

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