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Government pension and benefits post divorce

Guest Disquirrel

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Guest Disquirrel

Dear Attorney Reineke:

Re: Inequitable Property Settlement

What can I do? Who can I consult? -- (Same song . . . 2nd verse)

I was married to a Michigan State Police Sgt. for 26 years and raised two children. I worked outside the home as well, but due to his five transfers, had to leave each job I secured to follow him to his new assignment. When, as an 18-year-old bride, the State Police recruiter came to our home to explain the details of "police life", he explained, of course, the dangers, the relatively low pay, and psychological stress -- but in exchange, "we" would be involved in an organization filled with pride, civic contribution, and gratification. I was, then, and continue to be now, very proud and appreciative of my husband's police accomplishments, as well as my contribution in support of our family and his career. The recruiter explained, that in exchange for our commitment to the Michigan State Police, we would be rewarded with and excellent life-time retirement and health/prescription/vision/dental benefits package. Unfortunately, my husband is an alcoholic -- when I met him, and to this day. I stayed in the marriage because I could not tolerate the thought of the children, subsequent to divorce, having unsupervised visits with their dad, as he was a drinking driver and had an unpredictable and sometimes violent temper. My failure to escape the marriage was solely due to the four-letter "F-word" --- FEAR.

My husband retired in 1994. In 1997 my husband returned to reside in Michigan. Our Florida divorce was final in 1998. Through mediation, I was awarded 50% of our assets, which included 50% of the Michigan State Police monthly retirement benefit. If he should die, the benefit would cease. I own a 20-year, term life insurance policy on my ex-husband at the cost of $2300 per year (during mediation I was quoted $700 per year -- WRONG!). Upon our divorce, my health insurance package ceased. When asking the mediator about health benefits I was told "its never been done". I now pay approximately $3000 per year to cover health insurance ($2500 deductible), prescriptions, vision care, and dental visits. I am currently being treated for deep depression and panic disorder, which came to a crisis last year, although it had been manifesting itself as far back in my marriage as I can remember. This year I have spent a total of $7800 for healthcare and life insurance.

This inequity is discriminatory. The mediation was under duress, (and misinformation) insofar as I was told by my attorney “settle today or go to trial tomorrow”-- not to mention my ex, against whom I had to file a restraining order, was lodging 1/2 mile away from me, while in Florida to finalize the property settlement! Questions posed to the mediator and my attorney relative to insurance to indemnify the pension award was inaccurate and incomplete. My questions regarding compensation for health insurance was rejected out-of-hand by the mediator. I cannot be the first divorced women to experience this inequity. What are the remedies?

Thank you.


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