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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

For Immediate Release: March 12, 2012

Senate bill provides for fair division of military retirement in divorces

To ensure that individuals seeking divorce only get the portion of a military service member’s retirement shared during a marriage, the Senate gave unanimous approval to Senate Bill 1887 Monday. The Veteran’s Benefit Protection Act, authored by Sen. Steve Russell and Sen. Frank Simpson, makes the division of military retirements, when a court has chosen to treat them as shared property, more equitable.

Sen. Steve Russell said the measure was needed to prevent the unfair division of such benefits in cases where the court rules those benefits as property of the couple.

“This allows for a fair, equitable division to protect excessive awarding of military retirement benefits to the former spouse of a service member. While I cannot agree with the decision that military retirements are anything but retainer pay, you unfortunately have a common practice in Oklahoma courts that divides them as property,” explained Russell, R-Oklahoma City. “You currently have cases where someone is only married to a service member for two to four years, but comes back after their former military spouse completes 20 or 35 years of service and is able to take half of that retirement. This bill would prevent that and would allow only the years that were shared at the rank of the service member when they were married to be divided by the formula.”

Russell, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, also noted that the measure does not affect him personally and that he has been happily married to the same spouse for 26 years.

Having served 26 years in the U.S. Navy, Sen. Simpson has seen too many cases where retirement benefits were unfairly distributed.

“This bill rights a wrong by making the division of retirement benefits in military divorces more fair by creating a formula based on years of service. Our system was wrongly allowing former spouses of military service members to get too large of a portion of their retirement regardless of how long they were married,” said Simpson, R-Ardmore. “This measure will ensure that former spouses still get their fair share in divorce proceedings, but not beyond what the member was entitled to when the divorce was filed.”

SB 1887 will next be heard in the House.

For more information contact:
Sen. Russell: (405) 521-5566
Sen. Simpson: (405) 521-5607

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