The question we're asked on an near daily basis...
"Do I have to pay child support or alimony with my VA disability money? I'm told that the law protects me from that. I can barely manage now with the disabled veterans benefits I receive."
The answer is almost always, "Yes, your VA disability money will be used by the family court to determine your obligation to pay child support or alimony." It is viewed as part of your total income and the law allows it to be used in every state. The court can not garnish the money from the VA. But once you have it in your checking account, the court can order you to pay the amount they have determined to be your obligation. If you don't, you may be held in contempt of court and you may go to jail. Is this fair? I can't answer that. I don't usually try to address whether or not it's a fair system. I just report to you the reality of what's happening in our veterans world and this is the reality we face. If you don't pay, the obligee (the custodial parent or the spouse owed alimony) may ask VA to apportion your VA disability payment. While this isn't called garnishment, it works the same way. If you are behind on payments, VA will determine what they believe you can afford and send it to the obligee. Once apportionment starts, you will face a steep hill in challenging it to get away from it. Your only real option is in the family court.
You have the right (this varies state to state) to ask the family court judge to lower your obligation.
Willick Law Group 3591 East Bonanza Road Las Vegas, NV 89110 (702) 438-4100
BY ROB JENNINGS J.D. In addition to child custody, separating couples with children must figure out how to handle child support. While the law on child support varies from state to state, courts generally calculate child support according to their state's guidelines. Child support guidelines typically take both parties' incomes into account. For purposes of calculating child support, income usually includes disability benefits from Veterans Affairs. Although the law typically protects VA benefits from garnishment, this doesn't always apply to child support.
Divorce, Child Support, and VA Disability Payments
Veterans in the midst of a divorce often question how their VA disability compensation will be treated in the process. They are often surprised to find out that their VA disability benefits will likely be considered determining how much child support he or she should pay. Although some individual states may have exempted VA disability benefits from consideration in child support, the Supreme
Court in Rose v. Rose (1987) found that disability payments could be considered when determining child support obligations.
The Court noted that “children may rightfully expect to derive support from a portion of their veteran parent’s disability benefits.” This means that federal law does not prevent a state court from ordering a veteran to pay child support in an amount that necessarily
would require the veteran to use VA disability benefits to satisfy the obligation.