from the Superior Court in Yuma County The Honorable Stephen
J. Rouff, Judge Pro Tempore No. S1400DO201501132
of the Court of Appeals Division One 796 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 31
Filed July 31, 2018
K. Boyte Henderson (argued), Mary Katherine Boyte, P.C.,
Yuma, Attorney for Shelly Rae Barron.
Alan Cook, S. Alan Cook, P.C., Phoenix; Keith Berkshire
(argued), Kristi Reardon, Erica Gadberry, Berkshire Law
Office, PLLC, Tempe; Richard G. Maxon, Tempe; Theodore C.
Jarvi, Tempe, Attorneys for Paul Roger Barron.
JUSTICE BALES authored the opinion of the Court, in which
VICE CHIEF JUSTICE BRUTINEL and JUSTICES TIMMER, BOLICK,
GOULD, LOPEZ, and PELANDER (Retired) joined.
In this divorce case, we hold that federal law does not
permit a state court to order a military spouse to pay the
equivalent of military retirement benefits to a former spouse
if the military spouse continues to work past an eligible
Paul Barron ("Husband") and Shelly Rae Barron
("Wife") married in 2004, when Husband was an
active duty member of the United States Marine Corps. When
they divorced in 2017, Husband was still an active duty
service member. As part of the dissolution proceedings, the
superior court found that Husband could retire in 2023 after
twenty years of military service and divided the parties'
assets, including Husband's military retirement pay
("MRP"), assuming Husband would apply for and
collect retirement as soon as he became eligible.
The dissolution decree provided that Wife was entitled to 29%
of the MRP. The trial judge also ordered Husband, if he chose
to work beyond his retirement-eligibility date, to begin
making payments to Wife equivalent to what she would have
received as her share of the MRP had he retired.
On appeal, Husband argued that the court improperly ordered
him to indemnify Wife if he chose to remain in the military
on active duty status. Barron v. Barron, 796 Ariz.
Adv. Rep. 31, 35 ¶ 24 (Ariz. App. July 31, 2018). The
court of appeals agreed and reversed, reasoning that federal
law precludes such indemnification. Id. at 37 ¶
We granted review because division of military retirement
benefits is a recurring legal issue of statewide importance.
We have jurisdiction under article 6, section 5(3) of the
Military members may be eligible to retire and receive MRP
after serving for a certain length of time, typically twenty
years or more. See Howell v. Howell,137 S.Ct. 1400,
1402-03 (2017). Although some states had divided MRP upon
divorce, in 1981 the United States Supreme Court held that
such orders were preempted because they created a
"conflict between the terms of the federal retirement