A measure that would treat military retirement pay like alimony is expected to be heard in the Senate this week.
House Bill 1053 was a hot topic last year. Basically it would change how military retirement pay is divided when a couple is divorced. Under current law, a non-military spouse is entitled to a portion of the pay even if the couple should divorce. HB 1053 would allow a judge to decide end the payment on the bill if the non-military spouse remarries.
The House has already passed the measure. If it passes the Senate it could headed to the governor’s desk. Proponents, who are mostly divorced veterans who are still losing a percentage of their retirement pay to a ex-spouse, say military pay is different than traditional pension pay. A service member could be called back and the payments end when the service member dies.
Opponents, mostly family law attorneys and former military spouses, say this measure hurts family, is a major policy change and ignores that fact that military retirement pay is often the only asset a military family has accumulated after moving several times as enlisted members of the military.
Movement on this bill has been quiet this session. Veteran’s groups are concerned it will not get heard.
Senate author Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid said the bill is on the Senate agenda and is likely to be heard in the next few days. The legislative session ends Friday.
Anderson said the bill is controversial and will likely take time to debate on the floor. Anderson said Senate leaders wanted to take care of bills that impacted the budget before getting stuck on a bill that could take a lot of time to discuss.
“It’s a controversial issue that fires everybody up,” he said. “You’re asking people to chose sides and that’s always a difficult thing to do.”