Attention Divorcing Veterans: You Don’t Own Your Disability Benefits, Your Family Does!

Divorce is expensive. From hiring a lawyer and maintaining a steady income during the separation process, to paying bills and keeping up with your children’s increasing school expenses - Divorce isn’t cheap!

Luckily our country provides many opportunities to generate various streams of income. 

One source is the financial benefits that come with serving our country. Military service has been a great way for people to get the education and finances they need to protect their growing families, while also building character and purpose as they protect our great country.

With great commitment, comes great sacrifice. While many return home unscathed, some return with scars that change their way of life. Our government repays that sacrifice through veteran disability benefits. This small token can sometimes mean the difference between a warm house in the suburbs and a cold mattress under the bridge for our vets. Unable to work, income is very sparse, especially if the veteran is the main breadwinner. Disability benefits are crucial for veterans and their families, BUT can they be taken away? 

Yes, if you get a divorce and you have a child.

While your military benefits are protected from unpaid taxes and debt, they are left vulnerable during a divorce case.

In the 1987 case of Rose v. Rose, one veteran found that in refusal to pay his child support, his VA benefits were garnished to fulfill his financial obligation, even though that was his only source of income. Supreme Court ruled that a state could use disability benefits to determine the amount of child support paid, and these benefits can be used to maintain this order. Justice Marshall states the purpose of veterans' disability benefits as “compensation for impaired earning capacity and to provide reasonable and adequate compensation for disabled veterans and their families"

How Garnishment Affects America Today

Recently in Congress, House Representative Kenny Cox proposed House Concurrent Resolution No. 7 which grants Congress authority to garnish veterans’ disability benefits to fulfill child support obligations. Under this bill, the United States will be able to garnish income to enforce child support and alimony obligations. This law is extended to disability compensation paid to veterans. According to The US Army, if a veteran waived part of their taxable military retirement pay to receive nontaxable disability benefits, their disability benefits can be garnished to meet alimony and child support obligations. In addition, a veteran with a 50% or more disability rating that was allotted 100% of their taxable retirement pay and non-taxable disability benefits is also subjected to garnishment to meet alimony and child support obligations. Legislators believe this bill will prevent veteran parents from escaping their financial responsibilities to their families. Once passed, Bill HCR7 would help ensure those families get the financial support and healthcare they continue to need after the divorce process.

How Garnishment Affects Louisiana Specifically

Non-taxable disability compensation has been falsely assumed to be a benefit only to the individual veteran, not their dependents. With the high divorce rates in Louisiana, the state encounters a lot of child support cases. This bill will force legislation to ensure the financial stability of a veteran’s family after divorce, regardless of the veteran's emotional attachment to the family after. Of course, there is opposition to taking any earned wages from veterans, largely based on the idea that “only those that serve deserve to reap the profits”. Marriage and children, however, are a commitment. It is a parent's duty to provide for their children and financially support their spouse.Can VA benefits be garnished after a divorce?

What You Can Do Now To Protect Yourself In Case of VA Garnishment

Marriage is a financial agreement. It can be daunting to learn that every investment, every penny you earn is up for auction in the divorce agreement. In some marital situations, having backup money is crucial to staying afloat, especially if your spouse starts playing dirty. You may be thinking that there's no use for honesty now, you need a secret stash. The court doesn’t have to know right? Well, you’re somewhat on the right mindset. You do need to save, but mainly, you need to save the smart, legal way. The best way to save money for a pending divorce is to control the access to income and financial information. This and more is covered in our FREE book16 Sensible Actions to Help You Plan and Prepare for Your Divorce. Inside you will learn how to maintain access to your accounts, protect your credit, and set aside money for the future. Divorce yields nasty surprises about your finances, your benefits, your legal ties, and your spouse.

Don’t wait for the bombshell to drop down the line. Hire an attorney now. Call Loyd J. Bourgeois at 985-240-9773 so we can start creating a foolproof plan to protect your livelihood.

 
 
Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Disability, Personal Injury, and Divorce Attorney
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