Divorce can be complex, and if you are a military veteran, you may have some specific questions about how divorce, alimony, and child support affect your veteran’s benefits.
In a typical divorce case, marital assets are equally distributed between both spouses. Marital assets include physical property like homes and financial assets like bank accounts, retirement funds, pensions, and stock portfolios. A divorce settlement may also include provisions for child support and alimony.
Military veterans typically receive benefits after they complete their service. Federal laws regulate the distribution of veteran benefits and state family law courts must comply with federal statutes.
Protection and Garnishment of Benefits
Federal law protects some military benefits from marital property division.
For example, in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, disability benefits issued through the Veteran’s Administration are not treated as marital property and cannot be distributed as part of a divorce settlement.
However, some veterans’ benefits can be garnished to pay child support and alimony. This is because the federal government intended for veteran benefits to be used not just for military personnel but also for their dependent family members.
The amount of garnishment depends on how many dependents need to be supported. The Veteran’s Administration will evaluate how much of the veteran’s benefits can be garnished without causing financial hardship.
As part of its evaluation, the Veteran’s Administration will factor in any other financial resources and any of the veteran’s special needs. They will also consider any special needs of the former spouse and the veteran’s children.
For a former spouse or child of a military veteran to access veteran’s benefits through garnishment, they must first file for apportionment. Apportionment is the process used by the Veteran’s Administration to pay a portion of a veteran’s benefits directly to a family member.
Situations where Veteran’s Benefits can’t be Garnished
There are some circumstances under which a veteran’s benefits cannot be garnished, including:
- The veteran did not waive part of their military retirement pay in order to receive disability benefits. This waiver changes taxable military retirement compensation to nontaxable disability benefits;
- The veteran’s former spouse is cohabitating with another person or has been found guilty of conjugal infidelity.
If you’re a veteran or the spouse of a veteran and need legal advice, Sauls Law Group can help. Contact us at (770) 212-9168 or through our Contact Us page for a free consultation.