Domestic Relations - Military-Retirement Benefits

Brown v. Brown, [Ms. 2160812, Mar. 30, 2018] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2018). The Court of Civil Appeals (Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, Moore, and Donaldson, JJ., concur; Thompson, P.J., concurs specially) reverses a judgment of the Madison Circuit Court awarding a wife 25% of her husband’s monthly military-retirement benefits and the sum of $30,084 for her share of his military-retirement benefits that had accrued but not been paid. The court concludes the Madison Circuit Court’s judgment violated federal law in light of the holding of the Supreme Court of the United States in Howell v. Howell, __ U.S. __, 137 S.Ct. 1400, 1405 (2017), where the Court held that federal law completely preempts the states from treating certain disposable military retirement pay as divisible community property. Because the husband in this case was assigned a 100% service-related disability, his disability benefits are excluded from the definition of disposable retirement pay, and thus pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 1408 is to be excluded from marital property and not subject to division.

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