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Legal malpractice affects military divorce fallouts

Many New Jersey residents who have worked with an attorney before have done so during divorce proceedings. Divorce attorneys can provide very valuable insight and counsel especially in contested divorce, or those with complicated marital assets. Another arena where divorce proceedings are quite complex are cases in which one or both of the spouses are military members.

Military divorces involve a variety of legal intricacies that civilian divorces do not. Much of this is because both federal and state laws govern military divorces, while civilian divorces are guided mainly by state statutes. One of the main differentiating issues of military divorces is the division of the military pension, which is sometimes botched as the result of legal malpractice.

The premise behind the division of a military pension is actually quite simple. The former spouse is entitled to half of the portion of the pension that accrued during the marriage. And, if the couple was married for more than 10 years of the military service, the government will automatically pay this military pension benefit to the former spouse.

However, if the marriage and the military service did not overlap for at least 10 years the government will not provide this service. Often, the former spouse must take the military member to court in order to collect pension benefits. However, there are many legal guidelines specifications and tight deadlines that tie up this process.

For example, the court case must take place in the state in which the military member resides. Additionally, paperwork must be filed very quickly to ensure that the ex-spouse's benefits will not come to a halt when the military ex-spouse dies.

Military divorces are often only taken on by divorce attorneys who are very familiar with the intricacies of these types of cases. Oftentimes, those who are unfamiliar make costly mistakes which greatly affect a divorce settlement. In these cases, one or both parties may attempt to recoup some or all of what they have lost by way of a legal malpractice suit.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Divorce: Splitting Up a Rich Military Pension," Ellen Schultz, March 9, 2012

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