Military Divorce Spouse Benefits May Change in Pennsylvania
On October 28, 2013 the Pennsylvania House Democratic Committee, lead by House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, heard concerns on HB1192 containing proposals to change to how Pennsylvania applies the USFSPA to military divorce.
House Bill 1192 was introduced by Representative Jaret Gibbons on February 14, 2013. The bill proposes a USFSPA change to treat the military retirement pay in divorce, and it also adds language that would limit the amount divisible when the pension is treated as marital property (limited to rank, pay grade, and time of service at the time of separation).
Gibbons HB1192 is clearly looking to limit division of retired pay with the military spouse:
“As such, my legislation would amend Title 23 to specify that the court may treat disposable retired pay or retainer pay, payable to a military member, either as property solely of the member or as property of the member and the spouse of the member. If the court determines that the disposable retired pay or retainer pay of a military member is martial property, the court will be required to calculate the amount consistent with the rank, pay grade and length of service of the member at the time separation. Under current law, military retirement pay is not specifically excluded as marital property. Therefore, regardless of the length of marriage or military service, military retirement pay is often, if not always, subject to division. Given the clear differences between military retirement pay and traditional pensions, the treatment of this pay as property should be considered more carefully by the judicial branch on a case-by-case basis to determine if the pay should be divided between the military member and the former spouse.” (See his memorandum)
The meeting was open to the public with claims that they were “interested” in hearing from those who would be impacted by this bill.
Agenda and Representatives for HB1192 Discussion
Here’s the agenda and who was present to speak:
- 3 p.m. Welcome and opening remark
- 3:10 p.m.Larry White, national director, USFSPA Liberation Support Group
- 3:40 p.m. Panel one:
- Bob Balick, retired serviceman and board member of American Retirees Association
- Brenda Lee Smith, retained/retired military
- Frank Kurland, retained/retired Navy
- Karen Throckmorton, concerned citizen
- 4:10 p.m. Panel two:
- Dale Hill, Pennsylvania representative, ULSG
- Kathleen Sterling, concerned citizen
- 4:50 p.m. Closing remarks
Biased Much? – Who Represents the Military Spouse?
The agenda above includes representatives from the ULSG, military retirees, and two concerned citizens. We might assume the concerned citizens are not and never have been military spouses, or they would have so indicated.
So…who exactly represented the viewpoint of the military spouse?
How about inviting some spouses next time? People who’ve “Been there – done that” might actually have some valuable information to share.
We can confirm that at least one of the people present subscribes to Former Military Spouse (this blog), and could have easily helped notify military spouses of this public meeting. Our contact us form is readily available, and we could have passed on the information. We do have interested military spouses on the east coast who might have attended; spouses interested in forming a group to ensure the rights of military spouses are protected.
Both sides should be represented in USFSPA discussions. Announcing a meeting on the Internet or in newspapers with a 3 day notice (we found some Oct 25th postings), is not indicative of a discussion group that is “interested” in hearing from those who would be impacted by this bill.
Please help keep both parties, service members and military spouses informed of their rights during divorce. This is why this website was started:
- Click the share buttons to help inform current and former military spouses of proposals to change the USFSPA.
- Use the comment form to add any additional information you find on HB1192 (or any new names it might assume as it proceeds through Pennsylvania).
Pennsylvania House Bill 1192 (HB1192)
Here’s a copy of the USFSPA changes proposed: