When a marriage comes to an end, the dissolution of property and spousal support are often contentious issues. This is particularly true when one spouse is a veteran who receives disability pay as a result of their service. Many people wonder how veteran disability pay impacts spousal maintenance in a divorce and whether a future ex-spouse is entitled to a veteran’s disability pay.
Understanding Veteran Disability Pay
First, it’s essential to understand what veteran disability pay is and how it differs from other forms of income. Veteran disability pay is compensation that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides to veterans who have sustained a disability or illness due to their military service. The amount of disability pay a veteran receives depends on the severity of their disability or illness. It is not considered taxable income and cannot be garnished or seized to pay off debts.
Affects on Spousal Support
Now, let’s talk about how veteran disability pay affects spousal maintenance in a divorce. Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is a court-ordered payment made by one spouse to another after a divorce. The purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide financial support to a spouse who is financially dependent on the other spouse. Spousal maintenance is determined by a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income, and the standard of living during the marriage.
In general, veteran disability pay is not considered income when determining spousal maintenance. This is because disability pay is intended to compensate veterans for their injuries or illnesses and help them maintain a certain standard of living. Disability pay is not intended to provide financial support to a veteran’s spouse or family members.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. In some cases, a court may consider a portion of a veteran’s disability pay as income when determining spousal maintenance. This may happen if the court believes that the veteran’s disability pay significantly contributes to their overall income or if the veteran has waived a portion of their military retirement pay in exchange for disability pay.
It’s important to note that spousal maintenance is not a guaranteed right. Each case is unique, and the court will consider several factors before making a determination. If a veteran and their spouse cannot reach an agreement on spousal maintenance, a judge will make a determination based on the specific circumstances of the case.
Is my future ex-spouse entitled to my disability?
Now, let’s address the question of whether a future ex-spouse is entitled to a veteran’s disability pay. In general, the answer is no. A veteran’s disability pay is not considered community property, which means that it is not subject to division during a divorce. Disability pay is considered the sole property of the veteran and cannot be divided between spouses.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If a veteran receives disability pay as well as military retirement pay, the retirement pay may be considered community property and subject to division during a divorce. This is because military retirement pay is considered income, while disability pay is not. In this case, a court may award a portion of the military retirement pay to a former spouse as spousal maintenance.
It’s also important to note that the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) allows state courts to divide military retirement pay as property during a divorce. However, the USFSPA does not require courts to divide military retirement pay, and each state has its own laws regarding how military retirement pay is divided.
In conclusion, veteran disability pay does not typically impact spousal maintenance in a divorce. Disability pay is intended to compensate veterans for their injuries or illnesses and is not considered income for the purpose of determining spousal maintenance. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and a court may consider a portion of a veteran’s disability pay as income in certain circumstances. For more specific guidance, related to your case, please reach out to our office for a consultation.