Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fourth Circuit upholds constitutionality of Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act

In ADKINS v. RUMSFELD the Fourth Circuit considered constitutional challenges to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, which gives states the option to classify a United States armed forces member's disposable military retirement pay as property divisible upon divorce. In addition, the Act establishes a payments mechanism allowing an eligible former spouse to receive the share of the retired pay directly from the military pursuant to a state court order in divorce proceedings.

Current and retired members of the armed forces whose retirement pay has been divided in state divorce proceedings, sued the Secretary of Defense arguing that the Act and the regulations implementing it violate their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of law. They also allege that the Act fails to respect the principle, purportedly rooted in the Constitution's Armed Forces and Full Faith and Credit Clauses, that legislation concerning military pay must have nationally uniform effect without variations among the states. The panel upheld the Act and rejected all constitutional challenges of Plaintiffs

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