Retirement can be a complex issue in Texas divorce cases. In some cases, retirement accounts may not be fully vested. In others, retirement income may be subject to periodic increases. When retirement income is subject to increases, the spouse required to make ongoing payments should be sure he or she understands how to calculate those payments in light of the increases.
A former couple recently ended up back in court more than a decade after their divorce due to a dispute over how to calculate retirement increases. The couple married in 1976 and divorced in 1998, after the husband’s retirement from the military. The wife was awarded $754.80 per month of the husband’s retirement, and 60% of all increases “due to cost of living or other reasons…” The husband was ordered to name the wife beneficiary under the Armed Services Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP). The wife was ordered to pay 40% of the cost of the SBP, which was to offset the retirement award the wife received.
In 2012, the wife informed the husband he had underpaid her. His new attorney told him he had been calculating his payments incorrectly. He had been calculating the payment using a method that resulted in payment of 60% of all cost of living increases cumulatively. After receiving advice from counsel, he began paying his wife 60% of the increases only in the first year they were received.