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Woman entitled to share of .. pension.

 

            Posted on May 12,2013       

            Woman entitled to share of ex's Army pension

 

 Q.     I got divorced about 6 years ago, got primary custody of our two kids, orders for child support and alimony, kept the title to my car, got the kids' furniture and clothing, moved to my own apartment, got a job, worked hard and made things work.

My husband kept his car and his clothing, most of which was his U.S. Army clothing.  At  that time he had served in the Army for about 25 years. 

We signed a two-page self-drafted agreement for divorce and went to court where the judge allowed a divorce.  My husband told me I had no right to share in his military pension, so there was no mention of it in the agreement.

Recently a girlfriend told me I should have gotten my share of that pension. 

Is it too late?

W.J., Ashburnham

A.  Massachusetts laws, chapter 208, Section 34 provides that at the time of divorce or thereafter, in a complaint for modification of the divorce judgment, no matter when you file the modification, the court can make a division and/or assignment of all or any part of  the marital estate, including "all vested and nonvested benefits"� and rights "accrued during the marriage, including military retirement benefits if qualified under and to the extent provided by federal law."�  This can happen in a case like yours where that pension was not mentioned.

If you were married to your ex more than 10 years, you were and you still are entitled to a share of his pension.  Without guessing about various refinements, generally, you add up the number of years you were married to him as a percentage of the total number of years he was in the service.

Husbands and wives have a fiduciary relationship with each other.  As a fiduciary he was obligated to tell you about and be sure you knew you had an interest in his military pension.  He breached that duty and committed fraud by telling you a lie.

So you need to march right on down to the office of an experienced family law lawyer, provide the details and instruct the filing of a complaint for modification, ask for a share of both back and future retirement checks. 

Once you have the summons, hire someone who knows how to play the bugle.  Have that person go early one morning to knock on your ex's door.  When he opens the door, he gets handed the summons and a copy of your complaint.  Then the process server backs up a few steps and plays "Reveille"� as loud as possible.  

That's a wakeup call your ex will never forget!