Veteran required to pay half of retirement to ex-husband serving life in prison

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TUCSON, Ariz. – A woman is upset that a man sentenced to life in prison is earning a pretty paycheck while behind bars.

Deanna Gulli says she was married to her ex-husband, Ronald, for 28 years.

During their marriage, Deanna was serving in the U.S. Army and Ronald had a secret.

Three years ago, Ronald was arrested for child pornography and sexual misconduct with a minor.

After finding out about the charges, Deanna filed for divorce.

After the divorce, Deanna was stunned a second time.

Legislators say that under Arizona law, Deanna is required to pay half of her military retirement to her ex-husband, who is serving a life sentence for the crimes.

“How am I going to support my children if I have to support somebody that’s incarcerated?” she told KVOA. “It’s hard to believe that all I get is sympathy, but I don’t get help.”

Gulli said she had planned on using the money to pay for the couple’s two children to go to college.

“I don’t have any money for them to go to college. That’s their college money,” she said. “It just seems like a selfish way to lose your money.”

According to KVOA, Arizona is one of the few states in the country with a community property law. That means that any money earned while a couple is married is equally divided during a divorce.

Legal experts say there are no exceptions on the books.

“Any money that you earn during a marriage through working belongs half to each spouse. So if you contribute to a retirement plan while you’re working, that retirement plan is community property,” Jennifer Manzi, an attorney at Karp and Weiss law firm, told KVOA. “There aren’t any exceptions and the only way that this could change is if the legislators change the law.”

Gulli says she has reached out to veteran organizations and lawmakers, but has been told there is nothing that can be done.