Oklahoma USFSPA Senate Bill 528 and SB 917

Language of 2011 Oklahoma USFSPA Senate Bill 528 and Bill 917

In 2011, Oklahoma reviewed two bills impacting the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFPSA): Senate Bill 528 and Bill 917.

Some of the language was very similar. Is this the fundamental nature of politics? Why create duplicate wording in two separate bills – unless the devious intent is for one bill to be overlooked and somehow slip by the attention of local representatives?

When we see this situation, it calls for extra attention to possible USFSPA changes.

Some concerns with the lanuage of Oklahoma Senate Bills 528 and 917:

  1. Excluding compensations received for service-related injuries or combat-related disabilities from child support computations.
  2. Directing the courts to treat military retired pay as the sole property of the service member for marriages under 10 years, thus preventing any division of pay.
  3. Required briefings for military personnel educating them on the USFSPA; (with no proposal to provide equal education to military spouses)
  4. Ceasing payments to a former military spouse upon remarriage or cohabitation with a member of the opposite sex.
    • Evidently there was no concern with same-sex couples; as written, they would still receive pay. One would expect, if passed, new initiatives would arise to revisit the issue.
    • This proposal was to be retroactive. Questions arose as to whether remarried former spouses would have to repay portions of military pay previously received. (No grandfather clause was included to exclude them from the new law.)
  5. Additional discussions emerged about how ceasing or denying a division of pay would impact a former spouse’s receipt of the Continued Health Care Benefit Plan (CHCBP) or the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), two other federal plans with connections to a division of military retired pay.

Most of the initiatives proposed in Oklahoma would have created distinct black and white rules, removing judges’ power to exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis. Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, saw this and argued, “You’re taking equitable distribution away from the courts.” No two divorces are the same.

The Oklahoma Lawyers Association, (including OLA Executive Director, Thad Balkman and OLA member, Phil Tucker) played a key role in educating representatives and causing the bill to be tabled on April 15, 2011. Let’s keep watch for this issue to arise again.

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