Non-Vested Military Retirement Benefits are Contingent Property Interests Subject to Division upon Divorce
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Examines Texas Supreme Court case, Cearley v. Cearley. In Cearley, the couple divorced after a marriage of approximately 18 years. Robert completed 20 years of service 11 months after the divorce was granted and the trial court awarded Shirley ½ community interest in Robert’s future military retirement benefits if and when he retired and received them. On appeal the Austin Court of Civil Appeals reversed the award of military retirement benefits on the ground that the benefits has not been acquired before divorce within the meaning of Section 5.01 of the Texas Family Code. The Texas Supreme Court reversed the court of civil appeals and affirmed the trial court. The Supreme Court held that non-vested military retirement benefits earned during the months of coverture constitute contingent property interests of the community and are subject to division by the court under Section 3.63 of the Texas Family Code.